…objects to Ambassador George replacing external lawyers in Guyana-Venezuela ICJ case
Government’s Adviser on Borders, Carl B. Greenidge, in a two-page letter to President Irfaan Ali earlier this year had complained bitterly about the unsavory conduct of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd, and Minister of Governance, Gail Teixeira; in addition to attempts to replace external lawyers representing Guyana at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case with Ambassador Keith George.
In the recently leaked letter dated April 7, 2021, Greenidge requested that his “assignment” be confirmed. While noting that he was more than happy to be involved in the ICJ case, Greenidge said he wished not do so under the stewardship of Minister Todd and therefore asked that he reports directly to the President and or Vice President.
But he didn’t stop there, he called on President Ali to remove Minister from the management and examination of the ICJ case.
“The current MAC could be re-designated an Advisory Committee, as it was up to year end, and the Minister could establish a MAC with new members to advise him on matters not relating to the ICJ and our borders. I could chair the non-Ministerial AC which would then report to yourself and the VP or just yourself,” Greenidge suggested.
He added: “Going forward, another person should be chosen to chair the MAC if it retains its responsibility for ICJ matters because it is difficult to see how the Committee can constructively contribute to the task of winning the case at the ICJ if it is to be used as a partisan vehicle.”
It is unclear whether the President had responded to Greenidge or even acted on his requests.
Observers say it is bit of an embarrassment for someone of Greenidge’s stature to be begging the President for protection. ” To think that he was the former Foreign Affairs Minister who is more knowledgeable than the minister is being treated so shabbily is a bit of an embarrassment.”
In justifying his request, Greenidge, in his letter to President Ali, explained that a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) meeting, held one-week prior, ended on a “sour” note with the Ministers present hurdling offensive remarks aimed at undermining his character and those of the external lawyers.
“I found the behaviour of the Ministers at the session out of place, offensive and calculated to offend. Many of the claims they made are ridiculous and suggest that the Minister/s not only have a problem with myself but the external lawyers,” Greenidge told the President.
Greenidge noted with concern that the “drama” which unfolded during the MAC meeting was video recorded based on the advice of Minister Todd but this he said would only add insult to injury.
“I believe, however, that such action would incense and antagonize any set of advisers, let alone ones who have worked for so long with success for the Government of Guyana,” Greenidge said. As a result, he called for the video recording to be destroyed.
Further, he complained that his position as Agent and Adviser was untenable, not only due to the misrepresentation of his judgment and decisions but also as a result of comments uttered by the Foreign Affairs Minister to the Directors in the Ministry about his status.
He noted that while Ambassador George is not without skills, he is no lawyer, and as such, it would not be prudent to have him replace the external lawyers and or the maritime expert.
“The role of Amb George vis a vis the management of the ICJ case. Explicit expertise on Venezuela has been provided by Amb Miles. No one has ever suggested to me that Venezuela is Amb George’s area of expertise but it seems that he has strong views about his preferred role, as apparently, does the Minister,” Greenidge write.
He added: “Whether he should play a more prominent role – as Head of the Frontiers Department, Co-Agent or as Agent to the ICJ – is a matter for the Government but it is not necessary to disrupt the work of the MAC in order to secure for him a more prominent role.”
He argued that with Ambassador George heading Guyana’s Mission in Suriname it would be difficult for him to also manage the Guyana-Venezuela ICJ case. “For security reasons and in terms of priorities the Ambassador would certainly not be able to adequately conduct any of the ICJ related tasks from Suriname, let alone be considered the expert on Venezuela. He should there be asked to make a choice,” Greenidge opined.
It was while Greenidge served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under the David Granger Administration that the United Nations (UN) referred the Border Controversy between Guyana and Venezuela to the ICJ.
Greenidge was also a Vice President in the coalition government, but has not featured among its ranks since the government was changed. A former contender for the leadership of the PNCR, Greenidge has been conspicuously absent in the party affairs.