In a rare show of unity among the two major political parties in Guyana, both groups have issued statements strongly condemning the move by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to issue a decree claiming sovereignty in the waters and seabed adjacent to Guyana’s coast, west of the Essequibo River.
Both President Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon have described the decree as illegal pointing out that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the correct forum to settle the controversy over the validity of an 1899 arbitral award that had established the land border between the two countries.
President Ali said in a statement on Friday that Venezuela’s attempt to unilaterally fix both its land and maritime boundaries with Guyana “is a legal nullity, which cannot and will not, be respected by any other State in the world, including Guyana.”
Mr. Harmon also made it clear that the Opposition views the decree as illegal.
“This decree is mischievous, illegal, and can only serve to foment tensions on an issue that is being peaceably resolved in the International Court of Justice,” he said. “Venezuela as a Member State of the United Nations, is bound by the jurisdiction and rulings of the ICJ.”
Meanwhile, representatives from various political parties, private sector, and the religious community, gathered on Monday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for a National Stakeholder Meeting to further discuss the issue. The meeting, chaired by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, served to brief stakeholders on the recent events and allow for the sharing of ideas.
“Earlier today, the Foreign Minister briefed Members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Raphael Trotman, MP. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Honourable Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips MP and Hon. Gail Teixeira MP., Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“The Committee demonstrated unanimity in the strong condemnation of the implementation of any law by Venezuela with extraterritorial application in contravention of international law and the rights of Guyana,” the statement added.
The Committee further reiterated national sentiments for continued vigilance in safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.
The United States and Canada have issued statements urging that the matter be addressed by the ICJ, as is currently being pursued by Guyana.