THE Government of Guyana officially notified Surinamese government on the 24th of this month of its decision to request the intervention of the United Nations (UN) International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea based in Hamburg, Germany, to give a binding decision on the existing maritime dispute between the two CARICOM neighbours.
Guyana submitted to Paramaribo a Statement of Claim outlining its case under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
This disclosure was made by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon at his weekly press conference yesterday.
In response to a query as to the reaction of the Surinamese government on the decision by the Government of Guyana, Dr. Luncheon replied that so far there has been no official response from Suriname.
He indicated that the matter was handled in a comprehensive way in that all stakeholders including the main opposition party the People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) were invited to participate in a briefing on the matter.
However, Dr. Luncheon noted that the PNC/R declined the invitation contending that it was a ploy for President Bharrat Jagdeo to have a photo opportunity so that he will be publicly seen with the Leader of the Opposition.
He said the PNC/R advanced too that it was an ingenious way of creating distraction from the death squad issue and deflect the attention of the public.
Nevertheless, the security forces, private sector, religious bodies, media editors, trade unions and parliamentary bodies were briefed, and the administration will share information on the border issue with the PNC/R through other means.
Guyana's initiative caps efforts by successive governments - beginning as far back as 1989 when President Desmond Hoyte paid a State visit to Suriname and met with President Shankar to resolve differences between the neighboring countries over their offshore boundary.
Among the most recent were meetings of the Guyana/Suriname Joint National Border Sub-Commission in Georgetown and Paramaribo between May and October of 2002. "But Suriname frustrated all efforts at agreement," President Bharrat Jagdeo lamented in an address to the nation last Wednesday evening, adding: "And this impasse isn't doing either Guyana or Suriname any good."
Guyana's legal team for these proceedings will be former Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Shridath Ramphal, Mr. Paul Reichler of the Washington Law Firm of Foley Hoag, and Dr. Payam Akhavan of Yale Law School
Touching on the Venezuelan border controversy Dr. Luncheon insisted that the Government of Guyana will continue its developmental programmes in Essequibo noting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made it clear that his country will not protest against certain type of activity there, however, he has not been so clear on others.