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Venezuela’s Maduro passes law to annex part of neighbouring Guyana

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has passed a law to create a new Venezuelan state around the oil-rich region of Essequibo in neighbouring Guyana.

“The decision taken by the Venezuelan people in the consultative referendum will be fulfilled in all its parts, and with this law, we will defend Venezuela on the international stage,’’ Maduro said.

At the beginning of December, Maduro held a controversial referendum in Venezuela in which, according to official figures, 96 percent of participants voted in favour of the annexation.

They voted in favour of the annexation of “Guayana Esequiba’’ as a Venezuelan federal state.

The law would now establish the 24th federal state within Venezuela’s territorial policy, according to the presidential palace.

The population of this area would also have a representative in Venezuela’s next parliament, which is scheduled to be elected in 2025.

It also provided for “the provision and formation of a high commission of the state and the country for the defence of Guayana Esequiba.’’

This again raises fears that Venezuela could invade the region and trigger a war.

Venezuela has long laid claim to the resource-rich territory, which covers around two-thirds of the neighbouring country.

The current borders were established in 1899 in an arbitration ruling by a tribunal in Paris, which was initiated by the U.S. and Britain.

Venezuela referred to an agreement with the United Kingdom in 1966, a few months before the then colony of British Guiana became independent.

This provided for a negotiated solution to the dispute.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is dealing with the case at Guyana’s request, but Venezuela rejected its jurisdiction and has also enshrined this in the law that has now been passed. (dpa/NAN)

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