Jagdish Koonjul, the ambassador of Mauritius to the UN, on Monday, hoisted his country’s flag above the atoll of Peros Banhos and announced that his country has reclaimed Chagos Archipelago from Britain, the Guardian reported.
“We are performing the symbolic act of raising the flag as the British have done so many times to establish colonies. We, however, are reclaiming what has always been our own,” Mr Koonjul said.
The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, in a prerecorded message, noted that this is the first time Mauritius has led an expedition to that part of ‘its territory’, adding that he feels sad that he could not be part of the historic visit.
“I’m delighted that our Chagossian brothers and sisters are able to travel to their birthplace without any foreign (British) escort,” he said.
“The message I wish to give out to the world, as the state with sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, is that we will ensure a wise stewardship of its territory – over its maritime security, conservation of the marine environment and human rights, notably the return of those of Chagossian origin,” Mr Jugnauth added.
In a phone call to the Guardian shortly after the flag was raised, the Mauritian prime minister said, “this is a very emotional moment for me and a very historic time for us because we are able to raise our flag on our own territory.
“The international community and international institutions have already decided that this is our territory. What we are doing is legitimate.”
Asked what would happen if UK officials later removed the Mauritian flag, Mr Jugnauth said: “I don’t know what they are going to do. If they remove the flag, this will amount to a provocation on their part. The UK is not abiding by international law judgments.”
Reacting to the event, a spokesperson for the UK foreign office said, “the UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which we have held continuously since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the territory and the UK does not recognise its claim.
“We are honouring the assurances we gave to Mauritius that we would not interfere with this survey.”
However, the International Court of Justice in an advisory opinion delivered on February 25, 2019, concluded that “the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence” and that “the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.
It also said the peoples of non-self-governing territories are entitled to exercise their right to self-determination in relation to their territory as a whole, the integrity of which must be respected by the administering power.
The court in its submission added that “after recalling the circumstances in which the colony of Mauritius agreed in principle to the detachment of the Chagos Archipelago, the Court considered that this detachment was not based on the free and genuine expression of the will of the people concerned.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999