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Cablegate: Cameroon: Bakassi's One Year Anniversary

VZCZCXRO5825
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHYD #0882/01 2941121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211121Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0372
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0251
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YAOUNDE 000882

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C
DEPT FOR USAID/HQ AND USAID/WA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR NI CM PBTS PGOV ECON
SUBJECT: CAMEROON: BAKASSI'S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY

REF: A. 08 YAOUNDE 1047
B. 08 YAOUNDE 1041
C. 08 YAOUNDE 817

1. (U) SUMMARY: One year after the August 2008 handover of
the Bakassi Peninsula, the Government of Cameroon(GRC) has
succeeded in dramatically improving the security of the
region and has done some work to improve infrastructure.
However, Bakassi remains poor and isolated, and the
inter-agency development approach has underperformed.
Cameroon believes its relationship with Nigeria is on a
positive trajectory. END SUMMARY.

Background
----------

2. (SBU) The Greentree Agreement was signed in 2006 by
Cameroonian President Paul Biya, former Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-Secretary General of the United Nations
Kofi Anan, and by representatives of the United States,
Germany, Great Britain, and France. The agreement
implemented a 2002 International Court of Justice (ICJ)
decision conferring Cameroonian sovereignty over the
potentially oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula. The ICJ ruling and
Greentree Agreement peacefully resolved a decades-old
territorial dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon which had
sparked several conflicts in 1981 and the early 1990s.
Greentree allowed for a five-year transition period (from
2008 to 2013), after which time Bakassi will be fully part of
Cameroon.

Development Getting Off the Ground
----------------------------------

3. (SBU) Soon after the Bakassi handover from Nigeria to
Cameroon on August 14, 2008, the GRC formed an inter-agency
development committee for the region. The committee, headed
by the Office of the Prime Minister, developed a guide to
development in the Bakassi region, and all ministries have
been instructed to use this guide in prioritizing projects in
the region (ref A). Jacob Ketuma Lukunze, the
ministerial-level point person for Bakassi at the Prime
Minister's office, told Poloff recently that development is
advancing in the region and that the Bakassi is "totally
calm." According to Lukunze, the major impediments to
development in Bakassi are: the lack of potable water (wells
dug are often contaminated by oil underground), inadequate
electricity supplies (due to the difficulty of transporting
gas in the region, generators are also not viable
alternatives), security, and the difficulty of moving goods
around the Bakassi area. In spite of these hurdles, PAMOL, a
palm oil plantation, has recently announced that it will
expand into the Bakassi Region and hopes to create 150 new
jobs.

4. (SBU) The head of a leading non-governmental organization
(NGO) working in the Bakassi region, Bakassi Youth Forum for
Peace and Sustainable Development, recently told Pol
Specialist that although infrastructure projects such as
roads, schools, and government buildings have advanced on the
peninsula, there has been little development of projects in
the areas of vocational training, income generation and
capacity building. The Director told post that he is
concerned about this lack of training, as unemployed,
disillusioned youth are a prime target for recruitment by the
Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF), a local militant group linked
to Nigeria's Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND).

Extensive Press Coverage
------------------------

5. (U) Media coverage of the one-year anniversary has been
extensive. State-owned press covered the occasion by
praising the government for its infrastructure and
development work, while privately-owned press highlighted
the many development challenges faced by the region. The
press has acknowledged the advances that have been made, but
many feel that more needs to be done. There has been some
Nigerian and Internet coverage of the resettlement village
(New Bakassi) reportedly built in Nigeria for the 35,000
Nigerians who chose to return to Nigeria. As of August 2009,
none had arrived to live in this village, according to press
reports. Except for the one-year anniversary, Bakassi does
not usually feature prominently in Cameroonian dailies.


YAOUNDE 00000882 002 OF 002


Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Cameroon,s elite Rapid Intervention Batalion (BIR),
with USG support, has been effective at dramatically
improving security in the Bakassi area. Before the BIR took
over this mission, Bakassi was the scene of a number of
violent attacks against security personnel. Security has
improved due to the BIR's presence and the recent laying down
of arms by several key leaders in the Bakassi Freedom
Fighters organization. Because of security concerns and the
difficulty of transportation in the area, Embassy personnel
have not traveled to Bakassi, making it difficult to assess
progress over the past year.

7. (SBU) Cameroonian sources tell us that relations with
Nigeria have continued to improve following the 2008 handover
and subsequent positive Joint Commission meeting, with
ever-growing but still limited economic and security ties. A
recent meeting in Yaounde of the Mixed Commission to
delineate the Cameroon-Nigerian border reported good
progress, with the first border pillar expected to be laid in
the next few months. However, the Nigerian Head of the
Delegation to the Mixed Commission, S.M. Diggi, publicly
noted two problems: first, he said oil and gas companies
needed to be involved in determining the maritime boundary;
and second, he said the GRC was dragging its feet on
approving a World Bank plan for the Trans-African highway.
Cameroonians still give the U.S. major credit for helping
facilitate the Greentree Agreement, and the Bakassi handover
is still viewed here as one of President Biya's most
significant accomplishments.
PETERSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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