After two days of discussions, from June 29 to June 30, following repeated skirmishes between the armed forces of both countries at their frontier in Kye-Ossi and Abang-Minko-o, the Defence Ministers of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea have agreed to “significantly reinforce” their partnership in defence, security and trans-border exchanges.
Officials of the two countries met in Yaounde on the instructions of President Paul Biya of Cameroon and President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.
The delegations were led by the two ministers, Bekale Nkogo Leandro of Equatorial Guinea and Joseph Beti Assomo of Cameroon.
The meeting f experts and senior military officers, discussed ways of bringing down tension on their common border which heightened when Equatorial Guinea began building a border wall to prevent Cameroonians from illegally entering its territory.
A communiqué issued at the end of the talks underlined the “modalities of collaboration and common security actions at the frontier between the two countries”.
It stated that that the ministers “resolved to activate exchanges in the areas of training, intelligence and the fight against trans-border crimes as well as other threats”.
Although it is common knowledge that tension at the border between the two countries escalated as a result of the decision by the Equatorial Guinean authorities to build a wall at the border between their countries, nothing about the border crisis was mentioned in the final communiqué, in spite of its being the at the centre of the discussions.
“It would appear the two countries have been playing the ostritch game concerning the wall issue because Equatorial Guinea continues to insist it is not building any wall, though the wall has been there all along for everybody to see and Cameroon has been pussy-footing on concrete action to finally resolve the issue,” declared a diplomat who has been involved in the negotiations but preferred not to be identified.
When Cameroonian journalists visited the border area where the wall had been built last week, there was the debris of a recently demolished wall for everybody to see, though military officials from both countries continued to insist that no wall had been built there.
In declarations on the sidelines of the meeting proper, the ministers continued to insist on the need for peaceful coexistence between the two national communities on their common border.
“As concerns us on the Cameroonian side, we do not see why there should be tension on our border,” Joseph Beti Assomo, the Cameroonian Minister of Armed Forces declared.
It should be noted that besides the fears of being “drowned in their own country by an influx of Cameroonians”, Equatorial Guinean disquiet rose to a frenzy in 2017 when Cameroon prevented a coup d’etat in Equatorial Guinea by sharing intelligence with that country and intercepting a convoy of mercenaries bound for Equatorial Guinea in Kye-Ossi.
This incident led to the arrest of several persons in Malabo and convinced the government of Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to re-consider the raison d’etre of the policy of free movement within the six member countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Commission, popularly known by its French acronym (CEMAC).