5 December 2018

Ghana, Togo Maritime Boundary Disputes in Limbo... No Consensus After 3 Rounds of Negotiations

MR LAWRENCE Apaalse, the Head of Ghana's Technical Team negotiating the Maritime Boundary delimitation with Togo, has said that there is no consensus in sight in the raging disagreement between the two countries on their boundary on the high sea.

Mr Apaalse who is the Chief Director of the Ministry of Energy said that though there was no solution in sight, negotiations with their Togolese counterparts would continue.

"Giving the three rounds of negotiations so far, it is quite possible that we are not reaching consensus very soon," he said.

He was speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on the sidelines of a meeting of the negotiation teams of the two countries in Accra yesterday.

The meeting, the third in a series formed part of steps being taken by the two neighbours to find an amicable solution to the boundary disagreement between them.

Flowing from Ghana's victory over western neighbours, Côte d'Ivoire, over a maritime border demarcation in an oil rich area in September 2017, Togolese officials between December 2017 and May this year, seized two seismic vessels from Ghana setting the disagreement and the subsequent negotiations in motion.

According to Mr Apaalse, each of the divide has its own understanding of the issue and that if negotiations failed; the third party solution would have to be explored for the application of International Laws of the Sea.

"From my training on maritime boundary delimitations when you ask a question that 'when negotiations fail what do you do', I say the only thing to do is you negotiate," he stated adding that the negotiation window would thoroughly be explored for a 'home solution' to the matter.

Asked if there were signs that the countries could head to arbitration, Mr Apaalse said that apart from the technical teams' meetings, the Heads of State of the two countries were having backdoor engagements at the diplomatic level for solution.

Responding to claims by the Togolese team that Ghana had breached some agreed guidelines by stationing the Ghana Navy on the disputed area, Mr Apaalse said position taken by their counterparts was absurd.

"If we say that we don't have (an agreed) boundary between Ghana and Togo, then where lies the point of claim that this area is mine," he asked.

He said as negotiations continue, it was critical the factions put in mutually agreed point of actions and peacefully go through the process for the mutual benefit of all parties.

The National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah, meanwhile, said Ghana was committed to having amicable solution to the impasse.

Good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence between the two countries, Mr Dapaah said should be the framework and the basis on which the negotiating process be founded.

"Ghana views these processes as essential in ensuring that interests of our two countries are protected and optimised," he told the two teams.

Head of the Togo delegation, Hubert Matchonnowe, on his part said his country was committed to social peace with Ghana for mutual benefit of both countries.

He was however not enthused about the stationing of Ghana's navy on a section of disputed area and asked that steps were taken to withdraw the military.

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