Official photo of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) heads of government in Cairo
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
CAIRO, Egypt -- Guyana’s foreign minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, in a statement released at the just concluded 12th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) heads of government summit in Egypt, called for a political solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Rodrigues-Birkett said, “The situation is one which warrants a political solution and the international community can ill-afford to remain divided on a course of action.”
In condemning human rights violations from all sides of the conflicts, the foreign minister of Guyana said, “The government of Guyana embraces the fundamentals of people-centred development and continues to express grave concern at the situation in Syria. We are saddened by the heavy death toll in civilian life and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws which are perpetrated by both sides as this conflict continues.”
Rodrigues-Birkett’s statement also focused heavily on the Palestine issue and she reiterated Guyana’s historical support of a Palestinian homeland.
She said, “The government of Guyana, as it has resolutely done over the years, will continue to reiterate its unwavering support to the Palestinian people in their just struggle for their inalienable rights including the right of a homeland of their own.”
The foreign minister also called for the “eradication” of Islamophobia and urged the OIC to support United Nations resolution 67/230 entitled “The role of the United Nations in promoting a New Global Human Order”, which former president of Guyana, Dr Jagan advocated.
The summit was attended by 27 heads of state, including some key Muslim countries -- Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Turkey’s Abdullah Gul; Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan; Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang; the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Salman Bin Abdul Aziz; Sheikh Sabah of Kuwait; and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al- Thani.
The conflicts in Syria, and Mali, Israeli’s continued settlements in Palestine, Islamophobia, Islamic extremism and economic cooperation among member states are just some of the issues that dominated the summit. On the issue of Syria, the OIC was divided.
Rodrigues-Birkett’s presence in Egypt solidified ties with the new government of Dr Mohammed Morsi and other OIC states.
The foreign minister’s presence in Egypt was a clear indication of her effort to solidify ties with some important economic global players such as Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and emerging economic powers of Central Asia, especially that Guyana will be visited for the first time by the Secretary General of the OIC, Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who wants stronger economic cooperation with Guyana and Suriname, both members of the OIC.
Egypt and Guyana once had close ties. Egypt was one of a few Arab countries to have had an embassy in Guyana during the administration of Guyana’s former president Forbes Burnham. As well, Syria and Guyana have had close ties in the past. At least two leaders of Guyana, former presidents Cheddi Jagan and Bharrat Jagdeo, visited Syria while in office.