Pres Ali holds bilateral talks with President of Ghana
– discusses Guyana-Venezuela border controversy, electoral reform with OAS
– VP Jagdeo to lead delegation to Ghana next month
Coming out of discussions between President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Ghanaian counterpart, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on the side lines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), was a decision that Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo will lead a delegation to Ghana next month.
With Guyana seeking closer ties with Ghana, which is a fellow oil-producing country, the Vice President’s visit to the West African nation in the first week of October will be high on the agenda.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, along with a high-level delegation from his own country, had paid a two-day visit to Guyana back in June 2019. At the time, he had met Jagdeo who was then Opposition Leader.
During his visit to Guyana, Akufo-Addo had committed to lending assistance to Guyana as the country was at the time preparing for first oil – an offer which the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government and the then People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition had both welcomed.
However, the bilateral meeting between President Ali and the Ghanian President took place on Tuesday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York following the opening of the General Debate of the 76th UNGA.
The Presidents spoke about several matters of mutual interests, including oil and gas, climate change and the environment, capacity building, and training. Both leaders also agreed that Tuesday’s meeting would enhance collaboration in addressing matters of common interest at the global level.
President Ali was accompanied by the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud.
Meanwhile, the President also met with Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), His Excellency, Luis Almagro and his delegation on Tuesday.
Among the issued discussed were the strengthening of democracy in Guyana through electoral reform, support for Guyana’s position on the border controversy with Venezuela and Guyana’s position following the Venezuelan Government-Opposition accord made earlier this month.
On the settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences, President Ali reaffirmed that while his Government welcomes efforts to bring about domestic harmony within Venezuela, agreements that defy international law and processes can form no basis for mediating such harmony.
He said that Guyana does not promote the use of violence or threats to settle disputes, but will look towards the court and the rule of law.
In a 1966 Agreement signed in Geneva, both countries consented to the UN Secretary General deciding on a means of settlement of the controversy if the countries could not settle the matter on their own.
In January of 2018, UN Secretary General António Guterres decided that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would settle the matter. Since that decision could have only been overturned by a joint agreement by both countries, the ICJ was established as the governing body for the matter and both parties were bound by the Court’s jurisdiction and ultimate decision.
In addition to the border issue, the Head of State and the Secretary General also discussed technical support to advance the country’s development agenda.
The President and his high-level delegation also met with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President, Mauricio Claver-Carone and his delegation at the Permanent Mission.
During the meeting, President Ali updated the IDB Head on Guyana’s development plans and the importance of the IDB as a development partner. Guyana has a number of developmental projects that have been and are being funded by the IDB.
They include infrastructural projects such as the Sheriff-Mandela road expansion, which the IDB is bankrolling with US$31 million in funding. The project, which was given an October 31 deadline in July of this year, covers approximately seven kilometres of road between Sheriff Street and Mandela Avenue.
It involves the relocation of utilities; the installation of lane and shoulder improvements; placement of sidewalks and paved shoulders; traffic signals, traffic signs, streetlights, drainage; a pedestrian overhead walkway; culverts, bridges, and a roundabout.
In November of last year, the IDB had also approved a loan of US$22 million for Guyana aimed at strengthening the country’s public health response to the deadly virus. The loan, which fell under the Contingent Credit Facility for Natural Disaster and Public Health Emergencies, seeks to finance public expenditure necessary to contain transmission of the disease and mitigate further health and economic consequences.
It had been announced that the resources of the loan would be used for, among other needs, the purchase of medical equipment, laboratory equipment and inputs, ambulances, and personal protective equipment for health workers, surveillance officers, and border personnel. The operation will also benefit the affected population of Guyana who will receive emergency assistance under the proposed coverage.
Another project that was greenlit by the IDB last year was the “Safe Lodges Equal Safe Guests” project, which will see the design and roll out of health and safety protocols for visitors and host communities in the tourism sector.
The IDB will be facilitating the project through its innovation laboratory, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). It will call for Guyana to initiate a project design that will receive financing from the IDB based on an innovative model.
The Guyanese Head of State also met with President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu. The meeting, which took place at the Permanent Mission, was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.