Equatorial Guinea shuts border over visa-free movement

Equatorial Guinea has shut its border with Cameroon three weeks after the visa-free movement of citizens of the six countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) bloc became effective.

Leading Cameroon French language daily Le Jour reported that the tiny oil-rich nation had since last week closed its borders with Cameroon at the locality of Kye-Ossi.

A businessman and an official of the Kye-Ossi Municipal Council, Mr Zakari Munmbou, told the newspaper that hundreds of Cameroonian business people were stranded at the border town.

Fresh food

He said the closure had decelerated the economic activities between Yaoundé and Malabo.

“It is an economic blockade with unfortunate consequences. Trucks loaded with fresh food are parked on the Cameroon side of the border, desperately waiting for the approval of Malabo authorities to cross the border and sell their goods in this neighbouring country,” Mr Munmbou said.

Much of the consumer goods and foodstuff in Equatorial Guinea were supplied by Cameroonian traders.

Equato-Guinean authorities had not given any official explanation for the decision, which comes a month after Malabo announced it had opened its borders for the 45 million CEMAC citizens.

At a CEMAC extraordinary summit in the Chadian capital N'Djamena late last month, the bloc formally declared that all members had ratified the visa-free circulation scheme.

National markets

“I am happy that all sons and daughters of the CEMAC who are in this hall came to N’Djamena without a visa,” Chadian head of state and current president of CEMAC, Idriss Deby Itno said at the opening of the summit.

Negotiations on the deal began more than 15 years ago, culminating in a draft agreement in 2013 that awaited ratification by all its members.

CEMAC countries are also members of the 11-member Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Both claim to be seeking to eliminate the problem of small national markets, to create a larger area capable of facing competition resulting from globalisation.

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