Sep 25, 2016 News
NEW YORK, USA — The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary general, Iyad Madani, will tomorrow begin his first tour of the two OIC member states in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Guyana and Suriname.
On Wednesday, he will arrive in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. Accompanying the OIC chief is Agshin Mehdiyev, an Azerbaijan diplomat who is the OIC ambassador to the United Nations.
Madani, in an invited comment, said that his visit to Guyana and Suriname is part of his routine tour of OIC member states. One of the goals of his visit is to assess Guyana and Suriname’s expectations of the OIC. Madani will share with the leaders of these countries some of the products and support that the OIC can offer them. He also wants to “engage Guyana and Suriname” in stronger OIC ties.
Madani will hold meetings with presidents Desi Bouterse of Suriname and David Granger of Guyana. Foreign Minister Niermala Badrising of Suriname will also hold discussions with Madani. The OIC head will also meet with civil society in both countries.
Badrising said that Suriname is excited to welcome the OIC head to her country, especially at a time when ties between Suriname and the OIC have significantly expanded. During the visit, various agreements between Suriname and the OIC in the field of education, economics, and trade will be signed. Agreements to commence Islamic banking in Suriname will also be finalized.
Badrising said that the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), an organ of the OIC, is supporting the economic stabilization and recovery policies of Suriname with a soft loan of approximately US$1.8 billion. Of this money, her government is planning to invest US$1.278 billion in five sectors – agriculture, healthcare, finance, transportation and infrastructure, and tourism.
This week in Paramaribo, Bouterse praised the OIC. He said that “Suriname has a golden opportunity” with the US$1.8 billion in financing that the ISDB has offered his country.
While in New York to address the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on behalf of Bouterse, Badrising held bilateral meetings with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, two OIC members, in her quest to bring foreign direct investment to Suriname. She also had informal talks with Madani during an OIC reception in New York. No officials from Guyana attended the reception.
Guyana, on the other hand, is sending conflicting messages to the OIC. After a pledge by Granger in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he met Madani earlier this year, to improve its ties with the OIC, his government snubbed the OIC by not attending the last heads of government summit, which was held Turkey earlier this year. Guyana also doesn’t attend smaller meetings of the OIC due to the lack of funds budgeted by its foreign ministry, one Guyanese diplomat confirmed.
However, two insiders who worked for the government of Guyana for decades, claim that there is a level of Islamophobia that existed in the previous and current government sitting in Georgetown. There exists also a misconception that the 57-member OIC bloc is a religious organisation.
Suriname and Guyana were fortunate to have joined the OIC in the 1990s. The OIC has closed its door to new membership for decades now. Today, many countries are knocking at the door of the OIC with the objective of exploiting the economic benefits the group offers.
The following countries are waiting to the join the OIC: Brazil (since 2011), South Africa (since 2002), and Sri Lanka (since 2008), the Philippines (since 2008), Serbia (Since 2008), Nepal (since 2008), Democratic Republic of Congo (since 2008), Republic of Central Africa (since 2002), Mauritius (since 2002) and Kenya (since 2011).
Like Guyana and Suriname, Muslim minority states, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Uganda, are members of the OIC. (Caribbean News)
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