The presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon today signed an agreement settling a decades-old, sometimes violent, border dispute over the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula following intensive mediation over the weekend by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
â€œThe signing ceremony which has brought us together crowns a remarkable experiment in conflict prevention by Cameroon and Nigeria,â€ Mr. Annan said of the agreement which provides for the withdrawal of Nigerian troops within 60 days.
The UN-sponsored Cameroon-Nigeria Commission (CNMC) has been working over the past several years to finally resolve all issues of the dispute, which has its origin in the colonial borders established in the early 20th century by Britain and Germany.
The Peninsula had been the subject of intense, at times violent disputes between the two countries for dozens of years when Cameroon referred the matter to the International Court of Justice in 1994. In 2002 the World Court, as it is also known, in a binding decision awarded it to Cameroon, citing a 1913 agreement between Britain and Germany.
But Nigeriaâ€™s final withdrawal had defied efforts of the CNMC until Mr. Annan on Friday began days of intensive mediation with the two presidents at the request of both, seeking to avert a potential crisis flashpoint in already troubled West Africa.
â€œOur agreement today is a great achievement in conflict prevention, which practically reflects its cost effectiveness when compared to the alternative of conflict resolution,â€ President Obasanjo said referring to a much higher cost to retain a peacekeeping force. â€œIts significance therefore goes much beyond Nigeria and Cameroon. It should represent a model for the resolution of similar conflicts in Africa, and I dare say, in the world at large.â€
â€œReason and wisdom have been our main guides,â€ Cameroonâ€™s President Biya added. â€œBy signing the present agreement we have armed ourselves with an efficient instrument to implement the courtâ€™s decision bringing a definitive conclusion to our border dispute.â€
– UNN News