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Nigerian Troops Leaving Bakassi Ahead of Monday Handover


Nigerian troops continue their pullout from the disputed Bakassi peninsula ahead of a Monday deadline for complete withdrawal.

Nigeria is expected to formally hand over the territory to Cameroon at a ceremony Monday once the last of the 3,000 leave.

The withdrawal complies with a United Nations ruling that awarded Bakassi to Cameroon in 2002. Nigeria and Cameroon reached an agreement in June to implement the handover.

The withdrawal has many residents of Bakassi on edge. Some complain that Cameroonian troops have moved in before the Nigerian troops depart.

Others have vowed to resist Cameroon's control. Hundreds of Bakassi residents met last week to declare the peninsula an independent nation.

The three islands that make up Bakassi jut out into oil-rich waters in the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria and Cameroon clashed over the territory for decades, nearly going to war in 1981.

Under terms of the June 12 agreement, Nigeria will retain legal jurisdiction over the area for the next two years.

Most of the peninsula's residents consider themselves Nigerian, and have been given the option of moving to Nigeria, or staying in Bakassi when it comes under Cameroon's authority.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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