Guyana committed to maintaining a zone of peace- President Ali tells Al Jazeera

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has reiterated that Guyana remains a law-abiding country, committed to maintaining a zone of peace in the midst of increasing tensions with Venezuela over the ongoing border controversy.

The head of state iterated this position during an interview with the Qatari television network, Al Jazeera, on Wednesday evening.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

He said the country is on high alert, cautious, and working to ensure that Guyana is prepared to defend its territory should tensions elevate to an extreme level.

“Why shouldn’t we be in a position to defend what is ours? We are working with our allies in a precautionary manner, to ensure that we keep our people safe and ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana,” he said.

According to President Ali, Venezuela’s intensified claims to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, and that country’s recent ‘reckless’ actions pose a grave threat to international peace and security.

On December 1, 2023, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) warned Venezuela to desist from any action that would alter Guyana’s control over the Essequibo region.

On Tuesday evening, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, announced administrative measures to annex Essequibo and gave investors three months to exit from Essequibo’s exclusive economic zone, in open defiance of the ruling handed down by the United Nations top court.

The government has since alerted the United Nations Security Council of these developments, and has called upon its regional partners, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Commonwealth, which have all issued strong statements condemning the actions of Venezuela.

The United States has also reaffirmed its unwavering support for Guyana’s sovereignty.

“We have tremendous defence cooperation with the United States Department of Defence. We hosted the TradeWinds exercise up to this year. So, there is an elaborate defence cooperation with the United States that is ongoing. And we have brought the U.S SOUTHCOM (Southern command)… the Department of Defence, Brazil, CARICOM, the Commonwealth, the OAS, we have brought all of them in the loop as to what Venezuela is doing, the way they’re trampling upon international law [and] the reckless behaviour of President Maduro,” the president disclosed.

He said the government hopes that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will issue a strong statement condemning Venezuela’s breach of the ICJ order.

“We would like to see the full commitment of the United Nations Security Council to ensure that they do everything to have this region remain a region of peace and stability, and for them to support international law, for them to call upon Venezuela to support and respect international law and have the controversy settled where it is – that is before the ICJ,” he added.

Guyana remains adamant that the border controversy must be resolved through the ICJ and continues to call on Venezuela to respect international law.