Home | News    Tuesday 21 September 2004

Obasanjo satisfied with Darfur talks


ABUJA, Nigeria, Sep 21, 2004 (PANA) — Host President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is satisfied with progress in the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, even though a seeming deadlock last Friday forced a month-long adjournment of the parley, presidential spokesperson Remi Oyo told journalists here.

"The fact that the talks held was an indication that progress is being made in the resolution of the crisis," Oyo said shortly before the President flew out Tuesday morning to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

She said the President, who is also chairman of the African Union gave his backing and provided the facilities for the AU-brokered talks.

"Both parties at the talks appreciated Nigeria’s help. During the extraordinary [AU] meeting in Burkina Faso, the Sudanese expressed gratitude to the people and government of Nigeria," Oyo said, adding "the President still remains concerned about the Darfur crisis."

During more than three weeks of negotiations, the Sudanese government and the two main rebel forces agreed on only one of the four items on the agenda - granting international aid workers more access to the Darfur region, where more than 50,000 people have died and over 1 million more displaced in 19 months of fighting.

The negotiations were adjourned last Friday after the parties
failed to agree on the disarming of rebel forces and the pro-
government Arab Janjaweed militias blamed for most of the
atrocities in the region.

On Nigeria’s failure to hand over to Cameroon the Bakassi
Peninsula on 15 September as agreed, Oyo said efforts were on-going to ensure "a peaceful and final resolution" of problems besetting the handover.

She said President Obasanjo had directed the Nigeria-Cameroon
Joint Commission, set up in the wake of the judgement of the
International Court of Justice at the Hague in 2002, to handle the "impediments" that made it impossible for the area to be handed over on the agreed date.

"If you recall, the Minister of Defence did say that the Nigeria-Cameroon Boundary Commission is working to ensure that a peaceful
and final resolution is found. The President’s position has not
changed from that," Oyo told newsmen here.

"You should recall also that the President said one of the things the government had been able to do was to ensure that Nigeria and Cameroon did not go to war. This is because we are brothers," she said.

However, a local newspaper intimated Tuesday that Nigeria
developed cold feet over the implementation of the ICJ ruling
because according to a security report, giving up the territory was not in Nigeria’s interest.

"The security report had indicated such decision would pose a
threat to the eastern flank of the country’s entry point and that it could be a security risk to the territorial integrity of the country," the private Punch newspaper said.

The handover is also opposed by Nigerian residents in the
peninsula, who have instituted a court case challenging the plan.

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