There appears to be growing tension between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs over the local team of experts dealing with the border controversy case. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge was retained by the PPP Civic government as an advisor on the matter following last year’s elections.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that it has been making moves to expand the local team in the border case against Venezuela that has been taken before the International Court of Justice by Guyana.
The Ministry issued a statement late on Tuesday night in response to a leaked letter that was reportedly written by Advisor on the border matter, former Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge to the President expressing concern about some of the moves by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the matter. The letter carries an April 2021 date.
In a two-page statement last evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referenced some of the contents of the letter, and acknowledged its move to expand the local team of experts on the matter.
The Ministry said that the Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd after taking office recognised that the team which was assembled under the APNU+AFC government did not include a number of key persons who have years of professional knowledge on the Guyana/Venezuela controversy.
The statement made specific reference to Guyana’s current Ambassador to Suriname Keith George who served as Head of the Frontiers Department before his appointment as Ambassador and Director of the Frontiers Department Donnette Skeete who has served in the Department for the past 14 years. Additionally, reference was made to Trishala Persaud who has served as Head of Legal and Treaties Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The three senior Foreign Affairs officials and a number of others have now been added to the local team in the border matter.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said its single objective is to ensure that all available local expertise, specialists, and technical support and assistance be made available to Guyana’s international legal team.
The Ministry also said there is no question about the competence of the international team of lawyers who continue to be held in high esteem.
It was also explained in the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the portfolio of Agent in the matter is usually held by the serving Minister of Foreign Affairs and the position does not require any special expertise in law. The Ministry pointed out that the Agent reports to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and is supported by two co-agents.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge had continued to hold the position of Agent in the matter before the ICJ.
In the letter that was purportedly written by Mr. Greenidge and sent to the President, he expressed some concern about statements made in a meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Committee. He described the meeting as “sour” and made reference to the behaviour of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Governance during the meeting as out of place and offensive.
On the issue of Ambassador George being given a more prominent role on the border case matter, the former Foreign Minister said that would be a matter for the government, but it was not necessary to break up the work of the Ministerial Advisory Committee in order to ensure a more prominent role for the Ambassador.
In the leaked letter from April, Greenidge also reportedly raised concern about the meeting being video recorded, requesting that the video be destroyed. He also requested that the management and preparation for the International Court of Justice issues be removed from the purview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, suggesting that the Ministerial Advisory Committee be redesignated as a non-Ministerial Advisory Committee which would report directly to the President and the Vice President.
It remains unclear whether the suggestions were taken on board by the President but Mr. Greenidge remains involved in the matter.
News Source understands that there was friction between the members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the Minister.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it questions the leaking of the letter at this time and noted that just yesterday, the Minister convened a meeting with Mr. Greenidge and present at that meeting were the other advisor, Ralph Ramkarran and Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud.
The Ministry said the meeting focused on the issues before the International Court of Justice.