Tuesday’s meeting between the president, Dr. Irfaan Ali, and the leader of the opposition, Aubrey Norton, was to talk about the recent acts of Venezuela and the dispute over Guyana’s border with that nation.
A joint statement on the meeting is anticipated later today. Both leaders were present at the meeting along with their respective delegations.
After the discussion, Norton told reporters that the current events in Venezuela are being taken very seriously and that cooperation between the government and the opposition is necessary.
“I thought the meeting was a very successful meeting.We have been able to outline all our positions, we are unified on a number of issues including rejecting the whole idea of a referendum that it is pernicious, dangerous and we hope it should not go forward,” Norton said.
For years, Guyana and Venezuela have been trying to resolve a border controversy wherein Venezuela claims about two-thirds of Guyana, that is, the entire Essequibo region and the exclusive economic zone offshore.
After bilateral talks failed, the matter has been referred to the International Court of Justice where Guyana hopes it can get a final, binding judgement that indeed, the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana.
Venezuela has not been keen on participating in the case before the World Court and now, the country will hold a “consultative referendum” on December 3.
Essentially, this referendum means that citizens will be asked whether they support much of Venezuela’s decisions in relation to Guyana’s Essequibo region.
Guyana’s government issued a statement on Monday night rejecting the referendum and the concerning questions that will be posed to Venezuelans. Norton said the Opposition agrees with that rejection.
“…This is an issue we have to be united on,” the Opposition Leader emphasized.
He, however, highlighted that the Opposition team told the President of the need for increased dialogue and greater public education. He reported that the President agreed and those actions will happen.
Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan was part of the opposition’s delegation and he too said both sides are united.
“I am very happy that indeed we had this meeting.
“It was of the highest united action, at least at this stage between government and opposition. It is an extremely good start,” Ramjattan told reporters.
Guyana and other international players believe a final, binding judgement can be arrived at. For its part, Guyana remains confident that the World Court will reaffirm that the Essequibo region does not belong to Venezuela but that it belongs to Guyana.