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Motion denouncing Venezuela’s “provocative”, “void” referendum to be debated in Parliament today …Govt, Opposition expected to ratify motion, take united stance against Venezuela – Guyana Times

In response to Venezuela’s planned referendum coming up on December 3, 2023, that seeks to set in motion the annexation of Guyana’s Essequibo territory, Guyana’s National Assembly will unite today to consider a motion denouncing Venezuela’s unlawful referendum.
The motion that will be put to the floor was released on Sunday. In the motion, which contains a dozen ‘whereas’ clauses, the combined Government and Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) will be expected to denounce Venezuela’s motion as “provocative, unlawful, void, and of no international legal effect.”
According to the motion, the referendum is in flagrant disregard for international law, since question five speaks to the annexation of the sovereign territory of another country, namely Essequibo, which was awarded to Guyana (then British Guiana) in the 1899 Arbitral Award… which Venezuela accepted and ratified at the time.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, with their respective teams during their meeting last week

The motion notes that “the Government and people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana deem this purported Referendum to be contemptuous of the legal process prevailing before the International Court of Justice and repugnant to the accepted principles, tenets, norms and practices of international law.”
Further, the motion will seek the Opposition’s support for the Government’s actions to not only approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking an injunctive order against the referendum, but also the Opposition’s support for the Government’s pursuit of a “peaceful and lawful resolution” of the controversy before the ICJ. This is support that the Opposition has already said it will provide, with President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton having met last week.

Rejection of talks
At the same time, the motion will also seek the combined National Assembly’s rejection of any proposal from Venezuela to resolve the controversy outside of the ICJ. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has made such calls on President Dr Irfaan Ali, going so far to propose that Guyana enter into dialogue with Venezuela that would be mediated by the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
In fact, one of the whereas clauses describe Venezuela’s efforts to get Guyana to engage in dialogue outside of the ICJ as “another attempt to avoid the scrutiny of its illegal claim under international law and to nullify the binding legal process”. According to the motion, the bilateral dialogue process is now defunct, having been exhausted for years without meaningful headway under the Good Offices process, and Guyana is now committed to the ICJ process.

Inside the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Center, where the sitting will be held

The motion will also call “for the deepening of engagements among all national stakeholders on issues relating to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, particularly within the context of the meetings of the bipartisan Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Guyana/Venezuela Controversy” and “encourages the citizens of Guyana to remain fully engaged on developments surrounding the controversy.”
Meanwhile, the other proposed resolutions in the motion include a call for the National Assembly to reaffirm Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for recognition and acceptance of the 1899 Arbitral Award as a “full, perfect and final” settlement of the boundary between the two countries. Another section of the motion will seek to recognise the support Guyana has been receiving from its international partners.

The ICJ has meanwhile announced that it will be holding a special sitting in two weeks to hear Guyana’s Request regarding Venezuela’s planned referendum that seeks to annex the Essequibo region and integrate it into the Spanish-speaking nation’s territory.
In a statement on Friday, the Netherlands-based Court had said it will hold public hearings in the case concerning the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899 (Guyana v Venezuela) on Tuesday November 14, 2023, at the Peace Palace in The Hague. According to the ICJ, the hearings will be devoted to the Request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Guyana on October 30, 2023.

Last month, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council had published a list of five questions that it plans to put before the Venezuelan people in a referendum set for December 3, 2023. The referendum will seek the Venezuelan people’s approval to, among other things, annex Essequibo and create a Venezuelan state. This particular question (#5) also seeks the citizens’ approval for Venezuela to grant citizenship and identity cards to residents of Essequibo.
Last week Tuesday, it was revealed that the Guyana Government has sought the World Court’s intervention to prevent Venezuela from taking action through its planned referendum to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.
One of the questions from the referendum that Guyana is seeking an order against is the very first one, which asks the Venezuelan people to reject the boundary between the two countries that was set in the 1899 Arbitral Award – following a process of arbitration.
Guyana is also seeking the Court’s intervention against question three, which asks the Venezuelan people not to recognise the ICJ’s jurisdiction, even though the Court had thrown out Venezuela’s previous attempt to get the Court not to accept jurisdiction over the case. Finally, the Court’s intervention is being sought to prevent question five. (G3)

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