UN-sponsored summit on disputed Mbanie Island
- APA - Libreville (Gabon) Presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mabasogo of Equatorial Guinea are to meet on 24-25 February 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York, US to discuss the territorial dispute opposing them since 1970 over the Mbanie Island, supposedly rich in oil and fish resources.
This meeting will be second of its kind between the two countries, after Obiang Nguema met with late Omar Bongo in Geneva, Switzerland in 2006, in the presence of Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General.
The discussions between the two countries on the Mbanie Island issue are generally held at the level of experts, under the UN mediation.
The talks have been suspended since 2010, as the two protagonists failed to agree on the definition of the subject of the dispute.
Guy Rossatanga Rignault, Special Advisor to the President of Gabon, on Thursday told a press briefing that geographically and legally the Mbanie Island belongs to Gabon. Located some 36km form the Airport of Libreville, the capital of Gabon, Mbanie is only 16km off the nearest coast of Gabon, and 66km from the nearest Equatorial Guinea coast. In reaffirming its sovereignty on the island, Gabon also referred to the Treaty signed by Spain and France in Paris in 1900 and the Convention signed with Equatorial Guinea in 1974.
According to Rossatanga Rignault:
1. "Gabon cannot accept any questioning of its sovereignty over the island and would like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of The Hague to decide on the validity of these two conventions.
2. These two agreements reaffirm that the Corisco and Elobey islands belong to Equatorial Guinea, while Gabon is the sole owner of the Mbanie, Conga and Cocotier islands, and that there is no territorial dispute with neighbouring Equatorial Guinea, as the conventions are very clear about the issue.
This week, President Ali Bongo Ondimba held a series of consultations with the country's life blood, ahead of the tripartite summit in New York. He will therefore defend a position shared by the overwhelming majority of his countrymen, before the United Nations.