Former Deputy Energy Minister, K. T Hammond has strongly advised government to stay clear off opening any diplomatic channels on the side aimed at amicably solving the maritime dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast.
On Saturday, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ruled that Ghana may proceed with on-going oil exploration projects in the disputed area of the maritime boundary with Ivory Coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
[contextly_sidebar id=”8msW4rmqEFsyVodqGGCkPlbw26KddJno”]This was after Ivory Coast filed an injunction appeal to the Tribunal to among other things, direct Ghana to take all steps to suspend all on-going oil exploration and exploitation operations in the disputed area and refrain from granting any new permit for oil exploration and exploitation in the disputed area.
Some have suggested that while the hearing of the case is still on-going, Ghana should be open to other diplomatic channels to resolve the matter so as to prevent any dire repercussions.
“I think we should shut firm all back channels of solving this matter and it shouldn’t be open at all,” KT Hammond has cautioned.
He remarked on Eyewitness News that “if you are dealing with people who really don’t appreciate the seriousness of a situation as this, why don’t you just go for the ultimate and that is what we’ve done.”
Ivory Coast is fighting Ghana over a maritime boundary and after years of unsuccessful bilateral talks, Ghana initiated the arbitration proceedings under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
K. T. Hammond has insisted that Ghana made a very good move after years of unnecessary manoeuvrings from the Ivoirians.
“I think that was a good move and I think we should leave it there and what if the Ivoirians will come back? We don’t want any compromises that give any drop of our oil to them. We will not agree!” he fumed.
He disclosed that the substantive case might be concluded by 2017 “and it’s about precisely around that time 2017-2018 that this company [Tullow] is projected to do other things…We haven’t lost anything at all, it will not affect any projection” and urged Ghana to stick to its guns and continue with the case.
He recalled that this boundary dispute has been on-going since 2009, 2010 and Ivory Coast has failed in all their attempts.
“They’ve changed the rules, they changed the goal post and sometimes they even changed the dimensions and the playing field itself and it makes it difficult dealing with them. They’ve gone various miles and decided on various rules of engagement and in fact, they are just taking all of us for a ride,” he narrated.
He stressed that “the good thing that we did was ultimately we thought that enough was enough and then we sent everybody packing to ITLOS.”
The former Deputy Minister questioned why the Ivory Coast agreed to the boundary demarcations until Ghana found oil in the late 2000s.
“Since the 1960s, they knew what was at stake! They knew about the margin lines, the maritime area where demarcations were drawn. We were to operate on a particular side and they were happy to operate on their own side of it. There was no problem when we had no oil. Since when have we not explored for oil in this country? In the 60’s through the 80’s until our time when we found oil.
“All of a sudden, the Ivoirians are up and they are telling us that they do not respect any conventions, any lines, nothing!”
K. T. Hammond was convinced that it is clear the case of Ivory Coast “is distinguished by hopelessness…We have won so be happy and rejoice.”
By: Efua Idan Osam/citifmonline.com/Ghana