Ali: Guyana wants peace, respect

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Guyana President Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali

GUYANESE PRESIDENT Irfaan Mohammed Ali has called on Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro to retract his “missteps” as he announced measures to respond to Maduro’s claim to the Essequibo region of Guyana.

After a December 3 referendum on whether the Essequibo region belonged to Venezuela, Maduro declared it a part of Venezuelan territory.

Ali took to his presidential Facebook page for a live statement on on Tuesday night.

He said he had already spoken to the secretary general of the UN and several other leaders in Caricom, OAS, the Commonwealth, the US, Brazil, UK and France.

On Wednesday morning, he said, he would officially write to the UN Security Council.

The Guyanese defence force was also put on full alert.

Still, as Guyana mobilised its defences, Ali called for peace.

“We urge President Maduro to rethink these missteps and to act and behave in accordance with international law.

“All we do in Guyana is to ensure that this region remains a region of peace. Our only ambition is for peace and for the territorial integrity of Guyana to be respected; nothing more and nothing less.”

He lambasted Maduro, calling his actions “adventurous and reckless.” He said the actions of the Venezuelan government would only result in more uncertainty in the region, especially for the Venezuelan people.

“By defying the court, Venezuela has rejected international law, the rule of law generally, fundamental justice and morality and the preservation of international peace and security. They have literally declared themselves an outlaw nation. Nothing they do will stop Guyana from proceeding with the case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or stop the ICJ from issuing its final judgment.

“We will not allow our territory to be violated, nor the development of our country to be stymied by this desperate threat.”

Ali also told the Guyanese public they were safe, adding that international counterparts have promised support and that the Government of Guyana is doing everything to ensure its safety.

“So there is nothing to fear,” he said.

On Saturday the ICJ ordered that neither Venezuela nor Guyana must take any action that would affect the current borders between the countries. This came after Guyana called on the court for protection against Venezuelan plans to annex the Essequibo region, which accounts for two-thirds of Guyana.

Venezuela still held its planned referendum. Despite claims of a low turnout, the government claimed millions participated and 95 per cent of voters agreed the Essequibo region belonged to Venezuela.