UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday hailed a decision by the Cameroonian and Nigerian Presidents, Paul Biya and Olusegun Obasanjo respectively, to establish a commission to resolve their differences over the disputed Bakassi peninsula.
The commission would be "mixed" and chaired by Annan's Special Envoy, Ahmedou Ould-Adballah, Biya and Obasanjo agreed during a meeting with Annan in Geneva. It will meet in the Nigerian and Cameroonian capitals, Abuja and Yaoundé on an alternating basis, beginning in Yaoundé on 1 December.
"Annan welcomed their renewed commitment, as Heads of State of law-abiding countries, to renounce the use of force in their bilateral relations and pursue peaceful ways for the settlement of their boundary differences, as well as the constructive spirit which prevailed throughout the various meetings held during the day, " the UN reported.
Friday's meeting followed an 10 October ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarding Cameroon rights to the oil-rich peninsula. Nigeria disputed the judgment saying it did not consider "fundamental facts" about its inhabitants whose ancestral homes the ICJ had adjudged to be in Cameroon.
"The commission will consider all the implications of the ICJ decision, including the need to protect the rights of the affected populations in both countries. [It] would be entrusted with demarcating the land boundary between the two countries and making recommendations on additional confidence-building measures," the UN said.
Such measures would include meetings between local authorities, government officials and Heads of State; projects to promote joint economic ventures and cross-border cooperation; avoidance of inflammatory statements or declarations by either side; troop withdrawal along the land boundary; eventual demilitarization of the peninsula; and reactivation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
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