– says it stands in solidarity in protecting Guyana’s sovereignty

President Irfaan Ali

In a united rejection of Venezuela’s unjust claims to Essequibo, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has joined President Dr Irfaan Ali in overturning a decree issued by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro last week renewing the illegal claims of the speaking country Spanish.
In a statement issued Sunday, Harmon announced that he is joining all right-thinking Guyanese in rejecting Venezuela’s “abominable allegations” of Essequibo and also affirming Guyana’s defense of its own sovereignty.
“This decree is mischievous, illegal, and can only serve to temper tensions on a matter that is resolved peacefully at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Venezuela, as a Member State of the United Nations, is subject to the jurisdiction and rulings of the ICJ, ”Harmon said in the statement.
“The APNU + AFC Coalition recalls a similar decree, No. 1787, issued on May 26, 2015, which sought to unilaterally redraw centuries-old land and sea boundaries and claim hydrocarbon resources in the ‘Liza’ field. ”
Harmon noted that in the case of the previous decree, Venezuela eventually withdrew after widespread condemnation. According to Harmon, Venezuela would be better served trying to resolve their grievances in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where Guyana has sought a binding final resolution and where Venezuela has so far refused to participate.

Leader of the Opposition
Joseph Harmon

“Today, five years later, Venezuela is trying to repeat the same misfortune. We urge Venezuela to use the ICJ as the forum to present its case and stop issuing these arbitrary decrees. ”
“The APNU + AFC Coalition stands firmly and in solidarity with any reasonable steps that the people of Guyana are likely to embark on to protect Guyana’s sovereignty,” Harmon said in his statement.
Last Thursday, Maduro issued a presidential decree reinforcing his country’s illegal assertion of Guyana’s Essequibo region. In addition, the Venezuelan President announced that he had written to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres, to lead direct negotiations between the two countries, rather than the ICJ’s binding ruling.

Venezuelan President
Nicolás Maduro

That option has been exhausted, however, as the United Nations has sought to mediate negotiations between Guyana and Venezuela for years as part of an ultimately futile good office process until Guyana activates its right to take Venezuela to the ICJ in 2018 for a final ruling on the border issue.
In a special address to the nation on Saturday afternoon, President Ali completely rejected this new assertion from Venezuela, calling it “legally void” that will not be recognized by Guyana or any State in the world .
According to Ali, Guyana has always chosen to resolve the issue within international law. He, therefore, described the Maduro Government’s latest statements as “very upsetting” but made clear that they would not prevent Guyana from seeking a final binding decision in the ICJ.
“It is of great concern to me that, on January 7, the President of Venezuela issued a decree claiming the sovereignty of Venezuela a unique sovereign right to the waters and seabed off the coast of Guyana west of the Essequibo River,” said Ali.

Map of Guyana showing the territory claimed by Venezuela

“I am reminded that Guyana, then British Guiana, was awarded sovereignty over this coast and the land to which it is attached in the 1899 Arbitration Award, whose authenticity Guyana is confident will be maintained by the ICJ. unequivocally. ”
Ali had made clear that Venezuela’s decree violated the basic principles of international law, including the fact that no nation can unilaterally set its own borders, except by agreement with its neighbors or a ruling by the international court.
“A second fundamental international law offense is based on the fact that, under the established rules of international law, there is a fundamental principle that” the land dominates the sea “. This means that sovereignty, and sovereign rights in the sea and the seabed, derive from title to the land that forms the coast to which that seas and bed lie. “
“As Guyana is sovereign over the coast west of the Essequibo River, as far as Punta Playa, it follows that, as a result, only Guyana can enjoy sovereignty and exclusive sovereign rights over the surrounding sea and the bed of the sea, ”explained President Ali.

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