Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations to meet in June to discuss ongoing border issues

Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations to meet in June to discuss ongoing border issues

The Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations will meet on the 3rd June to discuss developments at the country’s border with Venezuela. 

The date for the meeting was announced today by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, after Opposition Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir, attempted to use the time allotted to her to debate the Sea and River Defence Bill 2023 to call for the reconvening of the Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations, after her motion, to address the issue, was blocked by the Speaker. 

In blocking the motion, the Speaker told the National Assembly that it was not a matter of urgent importance. 

“I would not allow her to speak because it is not a matter of urgent definite public importance. And I want to say to every member, in fact, in the last 24 hours I did receive two notices. One was withdrawn. Some of these notices, I can use a very harsh word, but some of these questions under this heading, they first need to be discussed internally and also with the clerk. I can understand the politics of a member wanting to raise, and then say I brought 50 motions under this heading and the speaker never, allowed one. I understand the politics of that but there are rules that govern this particular heading, and the matter has to be urgent,” the Speaker said. 

MP Walton-Desir has been pushing for the Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations to meet amid increased acts of aggression by Venezuela. The committee last met in November 2023 – more than six months ago. 

Outside the parliamentary chambers, the Opposition Member told News Source that the motion was another attempt at getting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd to convene the Foreign Relations Committee.

“I have written, at least three times for the year, asking the Hugh Todd – the Minister – to convene a meeting of the sectoral committee. Why? Because there are so many developments happening within the context of the Guyana/Venezuela Border Controversy, and the people of Guyana have no updates. This Government has been quiet, except for one or two vague and mundane press statements issued. The last meeting of the sectoral committee was in November of 2023, since that time Venezuela has passed an organic law annexing legislatively, the Essequibo. There has been a build up of troops on the Guyana/Venezuela border, both in the interior and on the Atlantic Coast. We have seen videos of infrastructure works being done, of airfields being constructed, of bridges being built, of intensified civil work on Ankoko Island and not a word from this Government,” MP Walton-Desir. 

She said it was unfortunate that the Speaker did not recognize the need or the urgency for the sectoral committee to meet, not next month but now amid these developments. 

A recent video has surfaced showing a bridge being built by Venezuelan troops, with the claim by Caracas that it is being built to link Venezuela with Guyana’s Essequibo region.

Addressing the issue at his weekly press conference at Freedom House on Thursday, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo explained that while Venezuela was only entitled to half of the Ankoko Island, the Spanish speaking country, more than 50 years ago, took control of the entire island forcibly. 

According to him, the bridge, currently under construction is being built on the Venezuelan side of the island, however, the Government has alerted the international community on the recent developments at the country’s border.

“We have made it clear, and the relevant bodies have been written to consistent with the Argyle Agreement and the provisional measures announced by the ICJ. We have notified all of the relevant partners, both of a multilateral and bilateral nature about the continued attempts by Venezuela to build up a presence at our border in a threatening posture, and that it is inconsistent with what we agreed to and that we want to keep this region as a zone of peace,” the Vice President said. 

He said the country remains very vigilant, and is paying close attention to all of the developments.

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