President of Guyana Donald Ramotar (L) greets the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) concluded his four-day visit to Guyana and Suriname this week and encouraged the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) members of the OIC to be more active and enjoy the privilege of full membership through benefiting from the socio-economic development programs of the Organization.
According to an OIC press release on Thursday, “Issues related to south-south cooperation and international and regional issues of mutual interest were discussed during his meetings with the high authorities of Guyana.”
In a press briefing, Ihsanoglu said Guyana’s participation in OIC as a young aspiring nation is beneficial for both sides.
“We do appreciate very much the multiculturalism and the peaceful coexistence and beliefs in the country,” Ihsanoglu said.
President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, reaffirmed his government's commitment to the OIC and informed the secretary general of his government's decision to ratify the OIC Charter and to initiate required procedure of signing the development agreements of the organisation.
Suriname also promised to do the same and, according to the country’s foreign minister, Winston Lackin, Suriname is soon going to sign seven agreements with the OIC and ratify the new OIC Charter.
In both Guyana and Suriname, Ihsanoglu was praised for “his relentless efforts to introduce long needed reforms in the activities of the OIC to make the Organization effective as well as his consistent role in encouraging the member states to be proactive to make the best use of its potential.”
In Suriname, he received the country’s highest civilian honour, the Order of the Yellow Star.
“I have noted that you have taken a positive stand on various international issues such as helping the needy people, poverty eradication, good governance, promoting interfaith dialogue and search for peace,” Ramotar said.
The meeting with the foreign minister of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, concentrated more on ways and means of advancing bi-lateral cooperation issues according to the OIC.
And in the near future the OIC plans to open an office in the region and Suriname has offered to host the OIC office in Paramaribo.
Ihsanoglu visited the headquarters of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) and was also honoured by the organization for his outstanding role in promoting moderation and modernization in the Muslim world. At the CIOG’s Secretariat, he met former president of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo and Guyana’s Middle East envoy, George Hallaq. Members of the government, Manzoor Nadir and Irfan Ali, were also present.
Ihsanoglu also visited the construction works of the Queenstown Masjid, the biggest mosque to be built in the capital Georgetown.
Both Guyana and Suriname have recognized the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Ramotar made reference to the people of Palestine and Syria who, he said, deserve the rights as people elsewhere to live in dignity, and enjoy security, freedom and independence.
The OIC secretary general also participated in an interactive session with members of the various faith based communities in Guyana. Some 12 different organizations attended.
Ihsanoglu told local religious leaders that the OIC has sponsored resolution number 1610 in the UN General Assembly, which has been unanimously accepted by all member states and which will in future guarantee the rights of minorities in all countries of the world.
This will take time but it will happen, Ihsanoglu said.