[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Late bid to stop Bakassi handover
Fishing boats in Bakassi
Most Bakassi residents are fishermen
Hundreds of residents of the Bakassi peninsula say they have declared independence, days before Nigeria is to start transferring control to Cameroon.

The Bakassi Movement for Self Determination would reject Cameroonian sovereignty, the residents said.

They have also refused a Nigerian government offer to relocate them elsewhere in Nigeria.

Nigerian forces are due to start leaving the region this week, after the government agreed to the handover.

"The people have declared their own republic, known as the Democratic Republic of Bakassi. We will no longer have anything to do with Nigeria, since Nigeria does not want anything to do with us," said Tony Ene, the interim head of the movement.

The AP news agency reports that supporters waved new blue and white Bakassi flags, while Nigerian soldiers watched.

Respect

In June, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo said he would abide by a 2002 World Court ruling to transfer the potentially oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

Mr Obasanjo has tried to reassure Bakassi residents that their safety would be guaranteed even when Nigerian troops leave.

Map

The territorial dispute sparked military clashes between Nigeria and Cameroon during the 1990s.

Most of those who live in Bakassi are Nigerians and are strongly opposed to coming under Cameroonian jurisdiction.

A special transitional arrangement will be in place for five years.

Cameroon has pledged to respect the culture, language, beliefs, property and fishing rights of the peninsula's people, and not to impose "discriminatory" taxes.

Bakassi juts into the Gulf of Guinea, an area which may contain up to 10% of the world's oil and gas reserves.

It is also rich in fish.

The 2002 International Court of Justice ruling was based on a 1913 treaty between the former colonial powers, Britain and Germany.

The agreement also settles the border between Nigeria and Cameroon for 1,690km (1,056 miles) up to Lake Chad.

Some villages further north have already been exchanged.




SEE ALSO
Doing time in a Cameroon 'cell'
24 Aug 04 |  Africa
Nigeria hands Cameroon villages
19 Dec 03 |  Africa
'My home is in another country'
19 Jan 04 |  Africa

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific