Kaieteur News – The recent approval by the Venezuelan National Assembly for a Consultative Referendum to drum up citizens’ support for false claims over Guyana’s Essequibo region can only be seen as an affront to peace and the rule of international law, said President, Dr. Irfaan Ali.
In a video recorded statement yesterday, the Guyanese leader said his government regards this latest move by Venezuelan authorities to be in conflict with the preservation of peace and security within the region. He said this is especially so when one considers that there is an active case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear arguments from Guyana and Venezuela and henceforth settle the controversy started by the latter on the rightful boundary markings for the Essequibo region.
President Ali said the ICJ has determined twice that it has jurisdiction to resolve competing claims for the Essequibo territory, adding that a resolution by the court assures that both parties are duty bound to honour a permanent settlement that is equitable, just and consistent with international law.
“We have subscribed ourselves to a process which is being carried out by the ICJ and we have submitted ourselves not only to the process but to the outcome. We also encourage Venezuela to fully participate in this process at the ICJ and do ensure that they too respect the outcome of the ICJ,” the Guyanese President said.
Notwithstanding the foregoing appeal, President Ali said he has taken note of the fact that over the last number of days, troubling statements have been emanating from Venezuela which are contradictory to the preservation of peace. He said such statements, which include that Guyana’s recent oil blocks auction is illegal, are clearly aimed at promoting Venezuela’s false claim to the Essequibo region.
“I want to assure all Guyanese; we will consistently defend what is ours in a strong way in the framework of international law and peace. We are together on this as a nation and make no mistake, we as a people and as a country are aware of our boundaries and we respect our neighbours and we continue to promote living and existing in a zone of peace,” the President said.
He added, “We totally reject Venezuela’s attempt to disrupt peace within this region and this zone.”
President Ali also said he has appraised the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir as well as Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton on all the government has done thus far in response to Venezuela’s claims. He said too that statements in support of Guyana’s position from the Organization of American States (OAS), CARICOM and the US State Department, have been issued to the Speaker.
He said too that the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has also been informed of the latest forms of aggression by Venezuela.
In a separate statement, Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton informed the media yesterday that he was briefed by President Ali on the current developments surrounding the Guyana/Venezuela border matter.
Norton reaffirmed the Opposition’s support for Guyana’s long held position that the Arbitral Award of 1899 settled the border between Guyana and Venezuela and that Essequibo belongs to Guyana. He said also that President Ali has been assured of the opposition’s full support for all measures aimed at protecting the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) also issued a missive on the matter, noting that it has observed with grave concern, statements from Venezuela about Guyana’s recent bid round for 14 oil blocks being illegal.
CARICOM said it views the stated intention of Venezuela to “apply all the necessary measures” to prevent the operations licensed by Guyana in its waters, as a threat of the use of force contrary to international law. The regional body said this is also not in keeping with the long-standing position of the Latin American and Caribbean countries that the region must remain a Zone of Peace.
“CARICOM has also taken note of the decision of the Venezuelan National Assembly to conduct a popular referendum on defending Venezuela’s claim. CARICOM expresses the hope that Venezuela will engage fully in the process before the International Court of Justice, which has determined that it has the jurisdiction in the case brought before it. The Court’s final decision will ensure a resolution that is peaceful, equitable and in accordance with international law,” the statement said.
Offering its support as well was the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS). The international body said it considers the move by the Venezuelan National Assembly to approve a Consultative Referendum to promote its false claims as an improper use of such a mechanism. “We condemn this improper use of a referendum because it is illegal according to the 1966 Geneva Agreement, and because similar misuses of this instrument have served as a pretext in the recent past to try to justify the worst actions between States, including the crime of aggression,” the OAS said.
The General Secretariat reiterated that Venezuela and Guyana share the responsibility of resolving their dispute in the spirit of good neighbourliness and in accordance with international law and the Geneva Agreement to seek peaceful solutions to the territorial dispute.
Furthermore, the OAS General Secretariat said it continues to support Guyana’s sovereign right to practice its franchise on its established and appurtenant maritime area, in accordance with international law and the principles of the United Nations.
The OAS General Secretariat also objected to Venezuela’s encroachment on Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial rights through intimidatory and unfounded statements that fail to respect international conventions and the 1899 Arbitral Award, for which the latter is presently under judicial review at the International Court of Justice.
Essequibo is we own, can we say the same about the oil?
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