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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04ABUJA1525
2004-09-03 12:37:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

INTERVENTION ON CAMEROON-NIGERIA MAY BE PREMATURE,

Tags:   PREL  PBTS  PINR  CM  NI 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001525 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/03/2014
TAGS: PREL PBTS PINR CM NI
SUBJECT: INTERVENTION ON CAMEROON-NIGERIA MAY BE PREMATURE,
CAUSE MORE TROUBLE

REF: A. ABUJA 1472 AND PREVIOUS


B. YAOUNDE 1301 AND PREVIOUS

C. USUN 583

D. PARIS 6316

Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for Reasons 1.5 (B & D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001525

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/03/2014
TAGS: PREL PBTS PINR CM NI
SUBJECT: INTERVENTION ON CAMEROON-NIGERIA MAY BE PREMATURE,
CAUSE MORE TROUBLE

REF: A. ABUJA 1472 AND PREVIOUS


B. YAOUNDE 1301 AND PREVIOUS

C. USUN 583

D. PARIS 6316

Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for Reasons 1.5 (B & D).


1. (C) SUMMARY: As per reftels from Abuja and Yaounde,
Presidents Obasanjo and Biya have long been working together
to implement the ICJ verdict on Nigeria's and Cameroon's
border. President Obasanjo has told us (Ref A) August 23
that he and President Biya are "personally satisfied" with
the status of the Bakassi handover, and that further movement
by either side might wait until after Cameroon's presidential
election in October. In the absence of President Biya saying
his perception is different, i.e. that there is a problem
between him and Obasanjo, the best way to make the system
work is to show U.S. interest but not create extra problems.
A tripartite demarche with the UK and France in New York to
the Nigerian and Cameroonian permreps (together) would work.
A demarche to the GON (especially lower than Obasanjo),
however, could be premature if there is no problem between
the presidents. It would be taken by Obasanjo as calling him
a liar, and it would also create more diplomatic "white
noise" that would have to be sorted out before the system
could make progress -- even if that is after Cameroon's
election. End Summary.


2. (C) Obasanjo has repeatedly told us, most recently telling
Senator Hagel in Ref A, that he was handling the Bakassi
issue personally with Biya, and that Biya and he were content
with the system and its outcomes. Cameroonian officials have
long been expressing concern about the Mixed Commission
meetings, and sought to enlist the USG, UK and France to
pressure Nigeria. Evidence from both sides suggests that
details of the Nigerian withdrawal from Bakassi (if at all)
and of the settlement of the maritime boundary, are closely
held by the two presidents, and that both presidents have
been extremely careful not to let the settlement play into
their respective 2003 and 2004 presidential elections. All
agree that the two presidents have met often, and spoken by
phone as well, in recent months.


3. (C) At the moment, it seems very difficult to tell if what
Obasanjo told Senator Hagel is accurate, or if there really
is a problem between the two presidents that puts the system
implementing the ICJ decision at risk. It might be
worthwhile to learn Biya's views firsthand. If there is no
problem, a USG demarche to the GON could easily create one by
giving the impression that it was a pressure tactic from the
Cameroonians -- and perhaps not even from the top there. It
will also create more "white noise" of distracting diplomatic
activity at lower levels that would have to be sorted out by
Obasanjo and Biya before they get down to finishing the
Bakassi and maritime boundary arrangements.


4. (C) If Biya says he is having a problem with Obasanjo, a
USG demarche would still add to the diplomatic "white noise"
and still could be a bargaining tactic by Biya, but at least
we could say Biya said there is a problem. We would not be
the problem. The British High Commission says they are not
aware of any demarche being worked up in London to the GON,
and they have the same perspective as we that the
Biya-Obasanjo dynamic is key and a demarche now to the GON
would be counterproductive to that dynamic.


5. (C) In the meantime, it could be useful to show our
collective interest in the outcome via a tripartite demarche
with the British and French in New York to the assembled
Nigerian and Cameroonian permreps. Given Obasanjo's stated
views, it would be counterproductive to bring up the
September 15 date in that session, and the focus should be on
our interest in the process reaching a successful (ICJ
implementation) conclusion. It might also be worthwhile, in
a nuanced way, to note the frequent interaction between the
two presidents and urge discipline on lower officials on both
sides to avoid raising issues different from their principals.
CAMPBELL