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Chagossians future discussed by Mauritian Prime Minister


Last week in the Mauritian Parliament, Mauritian Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth was challenged by Leader of the Opposition Paul Berenger on the future of the the Chagos Islands.

Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Islands, which remain a UK Overseas Territory. Britain has pledged to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius when "no longer required for defense purposes."

Sir Anerood provided details of a meeting he had recently attended with a British official on the future of the Chagos Islands. He stated the position of the Mauritian Government, that the islands were no longer required for defense purposes, owing to the ending of the Cold War, and so should be returned to Mauritius.

It should be noted that the British Government does not accept this analysis, claiming the Chagos Islands remain important for national security, and so there is "no question" over UK sovereignty over the islands.

Prime Minister Jugnauth though set a deadline for the UK to announce a timetable on when the Chagos Islands would be returned to Mauritius, which he put at the end of June. After this he claimed his Government would raise the issue at the UN General Assembly, before seeking to take the UK to the International Court of Justice.

Chagossians future was not directly addressed in the debate. Whilst UK Chagos Support Association take no position on the future sovereignty of the islands, the Chagossian people must be at the centre of these decisions.

Chagos All-Party Parliamentary Group coordinator David Snoxell did though address the future of the Chagossian people in an article on the sovereignty issue for Mauritian current affairs publication Issues. In the article he argues UK Government inaction and a lack of diplomacy have held up efforts to win a mutually beneficial solution for Chagossians, as well the UK and Mauritian Governments.

David Snoxell, who was also British High Commissioner to Mauritius between 2000 and 2004, also took part in a question and answer session with the Mauritius Times last week. In this piece he suggests that UK Government decisions on Chagossian return are unlikely to begin until after the EU referendum on the 23 June. He suggests though it would then be sensible for the UK Government to back Chagossian resettlement and engage with the Mauritian Government to discuss the long-term sovereignty of the islands.

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