Guyana and the OIC under the Jagdeo Government

The Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) which is the world's largest pan-Islamic body, with 57 members, which includes Guyana and Suriname, will hold a summit in Senegal from March 13-14. It is the 2nd largest multilateral organisation after the United Nations. The OIC is a not a religious organization contrary to misconceptions. More recently, US President, George Bush appointed Sada Cumber, a Pakistani born Texas businessman as US envoy to the OIC. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the delay was because President Bush "wanted to find the right person and he found that in Sada Cumber." "It is an important organization, it has a constructive role to play in the world, and the president is signaling our desire to have a greater dialogue with the organization as well as Muslims around the world," she said. Russia is also a member of the OIC and India is keen in joining this body but its application has been stymied by Pakistan.

The Dakar Summit may become "a historic turning point" that many hope will usher in a new era of economic solidarity among member states that will see tangible efforts to close the gap between rich and poor members. Senegal places great importance on this summit and sent a three-member delegation to personally invite the presidents of Guyana and Suriname to attend the upcoming summit. To date, no Guyanese heads of state have attended an OIC summit. The visit of the Senegalese delegation to Guyana was ignored by the Guyana state media, GINA.

The delegation paid a visit to President Jagdeo which the state media, GINA did not cover. It was under the leadership of Dr Cheddi Jagan that Guyana became a member of the OIC, and under the presidency of Mrs Jagan, Guyana actively participated in OIC meetings and was represented by Dr Odeen Ishmael, an astute and charismatic diplomat who attended all OIC meetings up to 2003. Mr Clement Rohee, while he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the Heads of State Summits in Malaysia and Qatar. However, the current Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Insanally is yet to attend an OIC Foreign Minister Meeting or heads of government summit.

With growing "Islam-ophobia" in the West, the OIC is seeking to reinvent itself as a forum for settling conflicts peacefully and for redistributing wealth among its members. The Dakar Summit will see the revision of the OIC Charter, the implementation of the 10-year OIC Programme of Action, the renaming of the organization and tangible steps to forge better cooperation among member states. A 10 billion dollar economic development package put together by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE will be unveiled to tackle poverty and other social ills in member states including Guyana and Suriname, who will benefit from these new developments.

Member states like Guyana and Suriname, facing economic constraints, are looked upon favourably and will never be expelled from the OIC or ISESCO. These countries have never had to pay dues and they are not expected to.

It is an established fact that rich OIC states must pick up the tab for Guyana and Suriname. This is why the OIC waive membership dues from Guyana and Suriname.

Yet Guyana and Suriname are allowed to vote on all issues, and are fully eligible for the projects and programmes of the organization. And when Dr Odeen Ishmael represented Guyana at the OIC, all Guyana's dues were waived. The OIC and its arm, ISESCO have taken encouraging and important decisions in favour of Least Developed Countries and how to deal with the issue of their contributions. The OIC and its affiliate organs like ISESCO are eager to have Guyana as a member of the "family," declared one diplomat.

This is a letter to the Editor sent to Stabroek News
 
Least developed countries like Guyana can benefit from the Organization of Islamic Conference.  This letter should have appeared yesterday but there was no room. We have been informed that Guyana's Ambassador to India Mr Ronald Gajraj and Mr Fazeel Ferouz President of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana attended the Summit. Our informant says Suriname had a four member delegation led by its Minister of Foreign Affairs.
 
Saturday, March 15th 2008