The foreign minister and vice president of Guyana, Carl Greenidge, and his counterpart from neighbouring Suriname, Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, will travel to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 45th Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting, which begins on July 10 under the theme “Session of Youth, Peace and Development in a World of Solidarity”.
The two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers will join over 50 other foreign ministers from predominantly Islamic countries and most from Africa to witness Uzbekistan passing the chairmanship of the OIC to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.
Neither Guyana nor Suriname has formal diplomatic ties with Cote D’ivoire or most of French West Africa. Most of these countries are members of the Islamic bloc.
The high level delegations from Guyana and Suriname are looking to diversify their countries’ political and economic partners, and will use this forum to expand ties between CARICOM and the OIC, and West Africa, the motherland of many enslaved African sold into slavery in Guyana and Suriname. A significant percentage was Muslim, and they led slave rebellions in Brazil, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Suriname is putting together a strong delegation to the Abidjan meeting. Suriname has strong ties with the OIC and especially the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), which is funding about ten projects in Suriname and supporting the country’s economic recovery.
Suriname will also use the forum to solicit foreign direct investments. The government is looking for investors to execute some mega projects in the country.
And Guyana, which is expecting an economic boom thanks to major discoveries of gas and oil off its coast, is attracting investors. The government is looking for investments in agriculture, aviation, tourism, infrastructure and energy. Guyana is expected to earn US$5 billion yearly, which is expected to be invested in education, healthcare, massive infrastructure, aviation and beefing up its military.
The preparatory OIC senior officials meeting for the CFM took place at the headquarters of the General Secretariat in May.
According to the secretary general of the OIC, Dr Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, dominating the upcoming Abidjan agenda for delegations is “the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation” in member states and “calls for the intensification of consultations with more coordination and greater effort to establish peace in our region, and to ensure justice, decent living and development for current and future generations.”
The issues of extremism and terrorism will also dominate the CFM agenda in Abidjan.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Muslim population is about 50% and made up mostly of Senufo and Mande (Mandinka) people. Current President Alassane Ouattara is a descendant of the Islamic Kingdom of Kong (Wattarra or Ouattara), which dates back to the early 1700s.