APNU+AFC pledges support for “reasonable” response to Venezuela’s unilateral extension of boundary

Last Updated on Sunday, 10 January 2021, 9:35 by Denis Chabrol

Joseph Harmon.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Sunday pledged the support of his A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) for any fair and sensible action against Venezuela’s unilateral extension of its maritime boundary with Guyana.

“The APNU+AFC Coalition stands resolute and in solidarity with any reasonable action that the people of Guyana is likely to embark on to safeguard Guyana’s sovereignty,” he said.

President Irfaan Ali a day earlier stated that his government would  take a “bipartisan” approach to deal with the issue of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In his New Year’s Message, the Opposition Leader committed to working with the administration on such matters.

On Sunday, Mr. Harmon joined with all patriotic Guyanese in condemning the  “preposterous decree” issued by Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro on January 7, 2021 that seeks to renew fallacious claims to Guyana’s territory and ignore internationally demarcated and recognised boundaries between the two states.”

“This decree is mischievous, illegal, and can only serve to foment tensions on an issue that is being peaceably resolved in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Venezuela as a Member State of the United Nations, is bound by the jurisdiction and rulings of the ICJ,” said Mr. Harmon, a retired Lt. Col. of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

The former Minister of State recalled that then administration of President David Granger back in 2015 had “stoutly and condemned” a similar decree that had been issued on May 26, 2015 to unilaterally re-draw centuries old land and sea boundaries and lay claim to the hydrocarbon resources in the ‘Liza’ field.  Mr. Harmon highlighted that diplomatic and other measures by Guyana had eventually forced Venezuela to withdraw that 2015 decree that had sought to extend Venezuela’s maritime boundary to include all of the waters off the Essequibo Region and as far west as French Guiana and northwards as far as Antigua and Barbuda. “Not long after, the decree was withdrawn following the pressure that was brought to bear,” he said.

Against the background of Venezuela’s repeated non-recognition of the ICJ’s jurisdiction to determine the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award, the Opposition Leader called on Venezuela to use the UN court to settle the controversy. “Today, five years later, Venezuela seeks to repeat the same misadventure. We urge Venezuela to utilize the ICJ as the forum to present its case and to cease and desist from issuing these arbitrary decrees,” he said.

President Ali on Saturday called on the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and countries of the Americas to offer solidarity to Guyana against Venezuela.