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Vol 38 No 24

Published 5th December 1997


Franco-phoney war

As Paris sides with Nigeria against a US oil conglomerate, its old allies feel uneasy

France's Elf Aquitaine and Nigeria have joined forces against America's Mobil Oil and Equatorial Guinea in a latter-day variation of the Fashoda incident. Urged on by General Sani Abacha's government, Elf have started drilling a well on the disputed maritime border between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. In what looks like a diplomatic master stroke by the Abacha government, it has convinced Elf (and by extension the French government) to back it in its increasingly acrimonious relations with the Malabo government of Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

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