Cameroon and the Central African Republic have agreed to demarcate several hundred kilometers of their shared border. The countries have have competing claims to villages and towns along the porous, undefined border. The two sides also vowed joint efforts to stop violence along the border, where Central African rebels have been hiding and launching raids for supplies.
Defense ministers and police chiefs from Cameroon and the Central African Republic agreed Wednesday to demarcate their shared border through a joint commission.
The C.A.R.’s minister of territorial administration, decentralization and local development, Bruno Yapande, led his country's delegation to the three-day talks in Yaounde.
Yapande said both sides want to demarcate and develop the border to improve security and living conditions for civilians.
Yapande says the presidents of the two countries have promised that the demarcation of the border will begin within a month to make border towns and villages safe from violence.
He adds that the two countries also agreed to reinforce their joint military presence in border towns and villages.
Cameroon shares a close to 900-kilometer, mostly porous border with the Central African Republic.
C.A.R. rebels use the bush around the border to hide from both sides’ troops and to launch raids on nearby villages for supplies.
The governor of Cameroon’s East region, Gregoire Mvongo, attended the meetings.
He says a 1908 accord supervised by German and French colonial masters defines the Cameroon-C.A.R. border. Unfortunately, says Mvongo, people, erosion, and floods since have destroyed many boundary markers. He says Cameroon and the C.A.R. neglected to maintain border markers as they were focused on fighting C.A.R. rebels since the C.A.R. gained independence from France in 1960.
Mvongo said the C.A.R. has not gone 10 years without political tensions boiling over into bloody conflict.
The two sides this month announced that 2,500 of 300,000 Central African refugees who fled conflict to Cameroon would return home by the end of the year.
The refugees agreed to return home after Bangui promised peace had returned to their towns and villages.
Mvongo noted there are disputes over territory along the border that need to be resolved.
The C.A.R. claims some border areas that are currently inside Cameroon, including a market in Garoua Boulay town and parts of border villages.
Cameroon authorities say there have been several confrontations with Central African troops in disputed territories since 2016, though none have led to fighting.
Jeannette Marcelle Gotchanga, a member of the C.A.R. border commission, says if the border demarcation is immediate, as recommended by the African Union, it will put an end to tensions and rivalries that impede free movement of people and goods and slow economic growth in villages where the border is disputed.
Neither country has said when the demarcation project will end but agreed to respect the findings of the joint demarcation commission.