Illustration Chagos

When all have been said, written, broadcasted, judged, the issue now is to be viewed as objectively as possible and putting all the political and human emotions that have beset the case on hold and calling for diplomacy to take the lead on a bilateral level to resolve the issue in the interests of all the sides and the stakeholders with their claims and rights remaining unchanged. Given that

(a) The Chagos Archipelago formed part of the territory of Mauritius and its dependencies from 1814 to 1968;

(b) The inhabitants are of Mauritian nationality though they availed of British passport when the BIOT was created before 1968; many have been settled in Mauritius, Seychelles, and in the UK. It is estimated that there were over 500 families and a population of about 2000 today.

(c) The UK paid compensations amounting to 7.6 million pounds sterling for the displacement of the inhabitants from 1968 to 1973; Their removal was not properly carried out by the authorities and the ship chartered then;

(d) The judgments in the case obtained by Groupe Réfugiés Chagos in the UK or other international institutions are binding on either side;

(e) The international community has been called upon to cooperate to put into effect the resolutions of the United Nations;

(f) The time limit is set as six months ending November 2019, that is, from date of the resolution in May 2019;

(g) The UK has committed an amount of 40 million pounds sterling to effect visits by eligible Chagossiens to the Archipelago where they lived prior to their removal; Those who are landless can also opt for a lease deed in the islands of the archipelago, Rodrigues or Agalega where there are the necessary social services;

(h) The Mauritius Government has committed a budget of 50 million rupees to projects and programmes for the resettlement of the inhabitants who wish to migrate to the islands;

(i) The military base built by the Americans on the land area of the Diego Garcia island has been concluded by a lease deed cosigned by the UK and  the United States prior to the independence of Mauritius and lasting until 2036 unless renewed 2 years before its expiry;

(j) The UK has agreed to relinquish the archipelago to the Republic of Mauritius when it will no longer need it for communications, defence and security purposes;

(k) The Government of Mauritius, on the basis of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and the resolution of the United Nations thereon, is looking forward to implement it by financing an expedition by sea to the shores of the archipelago though it is still under the jurisdiction of the UK through the BIOT(British Indian Overseas Territory);

(l) The Government of Mauritius is looking forward to organize a landing on the islands following amendments of the Constitution regarding its sovereignty on the archipelago and the inclusion of the Chagossiens to a Mauritian electoral Constituency;

Having recapped the key elements of the case, there is still time to open Talks by both governments in the light of war tensions in the Detroit of Ormuz where aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines are plying now. The Diego Garcia American military base is on the alert to prepare their war machinery and patrol the Indian Ocean with their submarines for any impending escalation of military actions.

British destroyers of the Royal Navy have already been monitoring the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and can be deployed to protect their ongoing trips into the Indian Ocean and strategic missions are also to be expected whereas the American air force has military bases also in the Middle East.

Given the present stands of the British and American along with their military partners and organizations that it is a bilateral issue, it is therefore advisable to adopt a diplomatic bilateral move to ease the cold relation with the UK on the Chagossians issue and prevent a confrontation that may forestall the expedition of a cruise ship bearing the Mauritian Flag to the shores of the Archipelago.

We have diplomatic representations in the European and American capitals and here also which can handle the issue pending a bilateral settlement as regards

(a) The establishment of the sovereignty of Mauritius on the Archipelago ;

(b) The lease of the Diego Garcia military base ;

(c) The consultations regarding the migration of the Chagossiens to designated islands;

(d) The implementation of the budget earmarked for the chagos islands;

(e) The setting up of a Joint Commission to start Talks and establish an Agenda such as Preliminary Meetings with Officials/Declarations by both sides/Budgets, Projects and Programmes for the islands/Visits to the islands/Next Meetings for Reviews and Reports

In view of the next meeting of the Commonwealth scheduled in 2020, it is time too to settle matters in a spirit of cooperation. Can all sides make compromises on a time schedule through the diplomatic channel or by the good offices of any neutral state?