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» 28.01.2011 - "Fake unity govt" in Equatorial Guinea
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Equatorial Guinea | Gabon

UN appoints new Equatorial Guinea/Gabon conflict mediator

afrol News, 19 September - United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has appointed Swiss legal expert Nicolas Michel as a special adviser and mediator to help resolve enduring maritime border conflict between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Before his appointment to this new position, Mr Michel was legal adviser at UN since August 2005.

According to UN spokesperson, Marie Okabe, two warring countries have been informed of Mr Michel's new role.

"Mr Michel has already intervened in border dispute as legal advisor to UN. He will provide new position with a reputation of impartiality for friendly settlement of disputes, due to his diplomatic relations and legal skills," Ms Okabe said.

Two oil-producing west African nations announced in July that they had made substantial progress toward referring dispute, which centres on island of Mbanie, to International court of justice, main UN judicial organ.

Dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, broke out in 2003, over an island rich in oil resources.

Representatives of the neighbouring African nations reportedly said they had worked on key documents for a planned joint submission to ICJ, which would then adjudicate on boundary.

Both states are said to have agreed to exploit area jointly until discord is resolved, thus plan to meet again in New York later this month to finalise documents being submitted to ICJ.

In another senior appointment announced today, Mr Ban has reportedly selected Karin Landgren of Sweden as his deputy special representative for Nepal, where a UN political mission (UNMIN) is based.

Ms Landgren who currently heads child protection unit for UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has also worked for UN high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Dispute between two countries has been simmering since 1972, when Gabon's army chased Equatorial Guinea fighters from Mbanie, a virtually uninhabited island of just 74 acres (30 hectares).

But it had been largely forgotten until recent years when prospect of oil rekindled interest in the Gulf of Guinea.

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