-Minister Todd says; calls out Opposition for the damage done while in office
WITHIN the last three years, the People Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) led government has been in damage control mode to rebuild Guyana’s international image which was tainted by the APNU+AFC administration.
This is according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Hugh Todd, who during his contribution to the 2023 budget debate on Tuesday, reflected on the APNU+ AFC’s behaviour during the 2020 General and Regional Elections and the alleged attempts that were made to “steal the elections.”
Todd reminded the National Assembly that the international community intervened and eventually called for the APNU+AFC administration to allow a “peaceful transition”.
He recalled that the Head of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Elections Observer Mission (EOM) to Guyana, former Prime Minister (PM) of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, had said that “the pernicious actions of a few, have wreaked considerable damage to Guyana’s image and reputation.”
“This is what he had to say about the now Opposition, then-government. This is what he had to say that they (APNU+AFC) are tarnishing our image. We have spent time between 2020 and now rebuilding to the extent that our international footprints have increased dramatically,” Todd said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister told the House that the Guatemalans and the Dominican Republic are preparing to establish an embassy here in Guyana, as well as the Colombians are preparing to re-establish their embassy.
“Guyana’s international image has been repaired. It’s on the move and being led by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali,” Minister Todd said.
He explained that the character of the Opposition has always been one of a “wrecking ball.” According to him, the PPP/C “has to come and always rebuild and keep this economy on the right path towards development.”
In responding to the shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Amanza Walton-Desir, Minster Todd said that his government remains committed to building bilateral relations and bringing Guyana to the international stage.
“I want to bring to the attention of the honourable member Amanza Desir that it was President Ali’s leadership at the 9th Summit of the Americas back in June 2022 in Los Angeles, [that] led to the establishment of three committees being: food security, energy and finance,” he said to loud applause from his fellow government MPs.
Amid heckling from the Opposition, Minister Todd reminded the House that President Ali recently returned from India after leading a delegation of ministers and representatives from the country’s private sector.
This led to “fruitful engagement” with the Government of India in many areas which presented numerous opportunities for Guyana, in keeping with the government’s development trajectory.
He further disclosed that Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips is currently in Argentina representing Guyana at 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC.)
Todd reminded the House that the PPP/C Government has been making waves in the international, political and democratic arena, however, the Opposition has been peddling false information to its supporters.
“I am trying to bring this to the attention of the people of Guyana so that we can have accurate information within the domain. We cannot encourage the Opposition to be sending this to the people of this country which are designed to mislead them.
“We are in government and we have a mandate to ensure that the people of this country are well prompt so that we can continue to provide them with the services … so that we can improve their lives, the quality of life and standard of living. That is our role,” Minister Todd said.
He also spoke about the Venezuela-Guyana border case at the ‘World Court’ in The Hague, Netherlands. The shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs had commended the government on the work done thus far.
While addressing the House, Todd revealed that the government had written to the Opposition requesting that a representative be part of Guyana’s team.
Minister Todd said he was shocked to find out that the Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton, did not send his shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Walton-Desir, to be a part of the team.
Todd said that this begs to question if the Opposition did not have trust in the capabilities of their own members.
“I’m trying to show you, Mr. Speaker, that they are talking about representation. They are talking about leadership. They don’t have any sort of leadership on their side. There’s no representation, and they’re not true to form. They can’t even represent with their own people,” the minister added.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to rule soon on the preliminary objections that were raised by Venezuela in the border controversy case.
Venezuela had called upon the ICJ judges to dismiss the case filed by Guyana. It had claimed that it has territorial rights over the Essequibo region, Venezuela raised the Monetary Gold Principle, and contended that the ICJ is not competent to settle disputes between the two countries, unless it agrees to exercise jurisdiction regarding the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899 (Guyana v. Venezuela).
Guyana maintains that a judicial settlement of the matter is the only recourse remaining, as it has exhausted all other measures.
Guyana seeks to obtain a final and binding judgement that the 1899 Arbitral Award, which established the location of the land boundary between the two countries, remains valid, and that the Essequibo region belongs to Guyana, and not Venezuela.