Mauritius: The Chagos leads the headlines in Mauritius

Port-Louis, Mauritius (PANA) – The threat from the United Kingdom and the United States against Mauritius regarding the issue of the Chagos archipelago has been the main headline news since Friday in Mauritius following a joint communiqué issued by the two foreign powers in Port-Louis.

In their communiqué, the United Kingdom and the United States said that "referral of the Chagos issue to the International Court of Justice would cause lasting damage to Mauritius’ bilateral relations with both the UK and the US".

The communiqué followed Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth's intention expressed to the Parliament of Mauritius on 17 May 2016 to seek a referral by the UN General Assembly to the International Court of Justice in order to obtain an advisory opinion in relation to the Chagos Archipelago.

The daily "Le Mauricien" writes that for the first time the two countries have put forward the argument that “the UK and USA are absolutely clear about UK sovereignty of these islands, which have been British since 1814.

"While the two countries do not recognize the sovereignty of Mauritius over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the United Kingdom had pledged the archipelago would be returned to Mauritius when no longer required for defence purposes," writes the daily.

“Le Mauricien” also reports on an initiative by the Mauritian political party “Lalit” reiterating its demand for the "decolonization of Diego Garcia and the whole Chagos archipelago”, on the margins of an activity that it organized during the week on Oscar Rivera, a political prisoner from Porto-Rico.

It also reported that members of the political party had distributed tracts to the public in front of the US embassy in Port-Louis “asking for the closure of the US military base on Diego Garcia".

On its part, the online publication, "L’" said that Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth, stood firm on his position on the sovereignty of Mauritius on the Chagos.

"For the Prime Minister, this threat is hostile and totally unacceptable," writes this online newspaper.

Quoting from the Prime Minister’s communiqué, Top FM Radio writes on its website: "The Prime Minister underlines that in his discussions with former UK Prime Minister, the late Lady Margaret Thatcher, she had explained to him that the military base in Diego Garcia was required for the defence of the West since the West was threatened by the Soviet Union and the Cold War. The Prime Minister pointed out that the Soviet Union no longer exists and that the Cold War is over.”

It further writes that “the Prime Minister highlighted that the UK and the US did not refer anymore to the defence of the West, but were using the term 'defence purposes' to argue that the military base in Diego Garcia is important for the fight against terrorism and piracy.”

“The criteria for determining whether the Chagos Archipelago is still required for defence purposes therefore kept changing,” Sir Anerood said.

According to Sir Anerood, the intention of Mauritius to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should not be viewed as an unfriendly act since Mauritius is fighting for a legitimate cause.

Top FM recalls also, quoting from the communiqué, that Mauritius will have no objection to the Diego Garcia military base being maintained for defence purposes in the context of an agreement providing for the return of the Chagos Archipelago to the effective control of Mauritius by an agreed date.
-0- PANA NA/MA 25June2016

25 june 2016 13:19:47

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