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Nigerian President Says Abuja Will Fully Implement Plan to Leave Disputed Peninsula


Nigeria's president says the country's troops will withdraw from the disputed Bakassi peninsula within 60 days in accordance with a United Nations-brokered deal with neighboring Cameroon.

President Olusegun Obasanjo said in a national address Thursday that Nigeria accepted the agreement "whole-heartedly" and would "scrupulously implement it."

Cameroon and Nigeria agreed Monday that Nigerian troops will leave the oil-rich peninsula within 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague awarded the land to Cameroon in 2002, but Nigeria had refused to withdraw.

Mr. Obasanjo said Nigerians living on the peninsula could either relocate or remain there. He said whatever their choice, they will be protected.

Several thousand Nigerians live in the 1,000 square kilometer region in the Gulf of Guinea off the central African coast. Nigerians who chose stay in the area will reside under Cameroonian law.

The dispute over the ownership of the peninsula has raised tensions between Nigeria and Cameroon almost to the point of war.

Monday's agreement was reached after several days of intensive diplomacy involving U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as the presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon.

The agreement calls for a follow-up committee to monitor the accord's implementation. The committee will include representatives of Nigeria and Cameroon, the United States, Britain, Germany and France.

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

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