President Ali reassures Guyanese have nothing to fear

In a live broadcast on Sunday morning, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali addressed the nation, reassuring Guyanese that there is nothing to fear as he emphasised that the government is working tirelessly to safeguard the country’s borders and ensure the safety of its people.

President Ali highlighted the extensive international coverage surrounding the issue, attributing it to the government’s proactive efforts to raise awareness rather than escalating tensions. He reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to diplomacy as the primary means of resolving the border controversy.

Guyana remains on the ‘right side of the law’, President Ali asserted, emphasising Guyana’s strong legal position and the overwhelming international support it has garnered in its quest to uphold the rule of law.

The President’s address comes amidst a surge of national pride and patriotism among Guyanese. In the days leading up to Venezuela’s scheduled referendum, communities across the country have united in a remarkable display of solidarity, setting aside their differences to present a united front.

“The level of patriotism, the love and unity and togetherness is something that we must take forward from this challenge. It is something that must now become an inherent part of us, part of our natural response system, as Guyanese. No doubt the collective effort of us as a people, our diplomats or friends, has really allowed us to bring this matter to the fore internationally, now enveloped in such a way that the entire world is looking at this. The entire world is looking at the way in which Venezuela will behave, and Venezuela is under greater global scrutiny,” the president noted.

Therefore, the head of state also urged that Venezuela show maturity and responsibility to allow for the rule of law to prevail, and to refrain from any reckless actions.

“We are your neighbours. We are taught to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Long after this controversy, we will live together as neighbours. You have to determine within yourself whether you want to be part of a system that runs afoul with international law, that runs afoul based on all the feedback internationally, based on the support we’re getting internationally,” he asserted.  

Venezuela, through its National Electoral Council, has set a referendum for Sunday, December 3, 2023, in which it plans to pose five questions to the Venezuelan public, to attract support for Venezuela’s baseless claim to the Essequibo region.

Questions three and five are particularly concerning, as they sought approval for Venezuela’s refusal to recognise the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) jurisdiction in the controversy, and for the creation of a new state in Guyana’s Essequibo region, incorporating it into Venezuela, and granting citizenship to the population.

As a result, Guyana turned to the ICJ asking it to impose provisional measures.

On December 1, the court unanimously ruled that Venezuela shall refrain from taking any action, which would modify the situation.

The longstanding border controversy case is currently before the ICJ, in which Guyana seeks that the court affirm the validity and binding effect of the 1899 Arbitral Award, which fixed the border between the two countries.