By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA — The next Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Bin Amin Madani, the former Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, has expressed his desire to continue forging closer ties with Guyana and Suriname, the only two OIC member states in the Western hemisphere.
Madani confirmed this during informal conversations last week at an OIC reception on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Madani attended the State University of Arizona and has authored several books in English and Arabic. According to an Arabic international newspaper, Al Asraq al Awsad, during his work in the media, Madani displayed his reformist ambitions and desires through many writings and books, in both Arabic and English.
The majority of his work has been circulated in local newspapers and his most prominent book to date is entitled: “The Saudi Challenge.” He also held cabinet position in the Saudi government, was head of the Islamic International News Agency, Haj minister and minister of culture and information.
Madani said that he was very pleased that outgoing secretary general Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu visited Guyana and Suriname, which has brought these countries closer to the OIC.
There are ongoing discussions about the prospect of opening an OIC office in Caribbean Community, most likely in Suriname, which offered to host the office during Ihsanoglu’s recent visit.
Ihsanoglu, in his address to the gathering, reviewed some of the accomplishments of the OIC and challenges facing the Muslim world.
Madani, in his address, noted that cooperation from heads of governments is important to the success of the OIC’s missions and goals. He also praised Ihsanoglu for the many achievements of the OIC since he first headed the group a decade ago.
Among those present was the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, whose presence there could indicate a soothing of Turkey/OIC ties, after Turkey criticized the OIC of not being vocal in condemning the “coup in Egypt and to stand against these killings.”
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud; newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita; and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hachim Thaci were also there.
Keita thanked the international community for its support to his nation and called for a united Mali.
Malian artists were there, showcasing the rich music of ancient land whose capital Timbuktu was the centre of learning and trade in West Africa.
Thaci was lobbying for more recognition for Kosovo. It seems that he had Suriname on his radar and approached Winston Lackin, the foreign minister of Suriname, who was also present.
Guyana some months ago recognized the independence of Kosovo and Grenada a few days ago became the latest CARICOM country to do so.