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Benin-Niger spat deepens with arrests at crude pipeline terminal

A prosecutor in Benin stated authorities had actually detained on Wednesday five Niger nationals for presumably entering Benin's SemeKpodji pipeline terminal under false pretenses, deepening a dispute over exports of crude oil from Niger through Benin.

In a declaration on Thursday, unique prosecutor Mario Metonou stated the group had gotten in the terminal clandestinely and implicated at least two of the detainees of being representatives of Niger's. ruling military junta.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the genuine intentions. ... in a context where recurring information suggests the. preparation of acts against the security of the state of Benin,. Metonou said.

On Thursday, Niger's Oil Minister Mahamane Moustapha Barke. Bako rejected the prosecutor's allegations, informing a press. conference in Niamey that those detained were inspectors. monitoring the loading of petroleum in line with an agreement. with Benin.

Relations between the West African neighbours have been. strained given that Benin obstructed crude exports through its port from. landlocked Niger in May, requiring the junta reopen its border. to Benin's products and normalise relations before shipments can. reboot.

On May 15, Benin provisionally reversed the export block and. agreed to hold a conference between the two nations, but a. long-term solution has actually not yet been concurred.

At the Niamey interview, Nigerien Justice Minister. said they would refer the issue to the arbitration court of the. Organization for the Harmonization of Service Law in Africa.

The stress go back to the July 2023 coup in Niger, which. led the regional bloc ECOWAS to impose rigorous sanctions for more. than six months.

Trade flows in the region were anticipated to normalise after. the bloc lifted sanctions, however Niger has actually kept its borders closed. to goods from Benin.

Benin's unrefined blockade jeopardised Niger's plan to begin. exports from its Agadem oilfield through the pipeline under a. memorandum of understanding with Chinese state-owned oil giant. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) worth $400 million.

The nearly 2,000 km