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Cameroon, Nigeria Debate Land Exchange - 2004-02-18


Nigerian and Cameroonian officials are going to the disputed border region, which includes the potentially oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to assess the possible impact of a land exchange. Nigeria, so far, has been stalling in carrying out a court order to return the disputed area to Cameroon.

The joint commission is touring the disputed border areas between Nigeria and Cameroon to evaluate the impact the land exchange would have on local population.

The International Court of Justice ruled, in October 2002, that a number of the villages that are currently governed by Cameroon must be transferred to Nigeria. The ruling also awarded the heavily disputed Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

Both countries have been seeking control over the peninsula and potentially oil-rich offshore waters. It is also home to a large Nigerian fishing village.

Both countries have signed an agreement for the land exchange, but Nigeria has delayed the handover pending further evaluations of the impact.

The original timetable for the handover called for the removal of the Nigerian administration and its military forces by May 2004.

U.N. officials said the visit by the joint commission to the peninsula is expected to last until March 1.

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