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Regional News

February 27, 2004
Suriname poised to respond over border dispute
BBC Caribbean.com

President Venetiaan will have to respond to Guyana's moves

Suriname will not be able to ignore Guyana’s decision to take the maritime border dispute to the United Nations according to a former border commission member.
Earlier this week, Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that he would refer the 100-year-old dispute to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The controversy erupted more than three years ago when Surinamese gunboats evicted a Canadian owned oil rig from disputed waters being claimed by both Guyana and Suriname.

Former border commission member Freddy Kruisland said Suriname cannot ignore Guyana's latest action.

"The first thing that Suriname should do is ask Guyana for clarification - why they have done this without consulting us, without discussing this matter," he said.

"Then Suriname cannot refuse to be present if the conciliation procedures have started because Suriname has signed the 1994 Convention on the Law of the Sea."

"That convention states expressly that refusal of one of the first parties to take part in the procedure will not prevent that procedure from going on," Mr Kruisland said.

The Guyanese government said it had decided to take the action after years of diplomatic efforts and bilateral meetings failed.

President Jagdeo says he hopes the Guyanese action won't hurt regional integration and Guyana-Suriname relations.

But officials in the former Dutch colony say the action by Georgetown puts in jeopardy, border talks initiated by Mr Jagdeo and Surinamese President Ronald Venetiaan two years ago.

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