Panafrican News Agency

The Chagos affair hit the headlines this week in Mauritius

Port-Louis, Mauritius (PANA)   -   The departure of Britain from the Chagos archipelago, which it has occupied since the 1960s and later ceded to the United States for a military base before granting its independence to Mauritius in 1968, dominated the news headlines here this week.

A resolution on the issue presented on behalf of Africa by Senegal, obtained 116 votes for and six votes against, including those of Great Britain and the United States.

This resolution followed the advisory opinion issued on February 25, 2019, by the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) in favour of Mauritius.

Reporting Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in this regard, the daily ‘Le Mauricien’ wrote that the latter said "that the pressure will continue on the British to leave this part of the territory of Mauritius within six months so that our Republic can complete its decolonization”.

"We got a massive vote in our favor despite tremendous pressure from the British and Americans," he said.

The prime minister said the question now was "whether the international community will take remedial action or allow this act to continue”.

Former Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the only surviving member of the Mauritian delegation which had traveled to London in 1965 to discuss Mauritius' independence from the British, told Le Mauricien he was confident "that sooner or later, Mauritius will recover the Chagos archipelago, its territory”.

He recalled that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had "reiterated the commitment that the Chagos archipelago will be returned to Mauritius when the West will no longer need it for its defense”.

"Today, the threat of the Cold War or the Soviet Union no longer exists. The British speak of security in the Indian Ocean, the fight against terrorism and piracy. Do we need a nuclear base for that?” he asked.

“The Chagossian community, these former inhabitants of the Chagos living since their expulsion to Mauritius, are happy after this success won by Mauritius at the United Nations,” reports Le Mauricien.

But, according to this daily, "despite their contentment, some show pessimism, claiming not to have great hope that the British and the Americans would respect this result and thus evacuate the Chagos as soon as possible”.

The daily ‘L'Express’, wrote: "Although this vote is another victory for Mauritius and gives new strength to our battle to recover this archipelago, other States could rely on the approach of Mauritius in their struggle to obtain redress in relation to territorial disputes."

"This is a strong signal: The United Nations has legitimized our claim to the sovereignty of the Chagos. The international community is aligning itself with what the ICJ has said. That is, the decolonization process in Mauritius has not been completed and the British have done wrong. Thus, the British should return the Chagos archipelago as soon as possible," writes L'express.

Under the heading "Mauritius goes on the offensive", the daily ‘Le Défi’ writes: "Armed with this vote at the United Nations, Mauritius intends to maintain the pressure on the United Kingdom. One of the options: to question the presence of the British on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. They sit there thanks to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), name given to the Chagos. This same BIOT is now officially illegal under international law."


-0-   PANA    NA 25May2019