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UK challenged in territorial dispute — RT World News

The Mauritian ambassador to the UN raises the country’s flag on an atoll in the Chagos Archipelago

Mauritius formally challenged British ownership of the Chagos Archipelago on Monday, with Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian ambassador to the UN, hoisting his country’s flag on a northern atoll.

At 10:30 a.m., officials sang their national anthem and raised the flag during a ceremony on the small atoll of Peros Banhos, the Guardian reported.

“We perform the symbolic act of raising the flag as the British have done so many times to establish colonies. However, we are reclaiming what has always been ours,” said Koonjul.

Officials and the assembled media then listened to a pre-recorded message from Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

“This is the first time that Mauritius is leading an expedition to this part of its territory,” he added. Jugnauth said in a message played over a loudspeaker. “I am sad that I was unable to take part in this historic visit.” He added that he was happy that “our Chagossian brothers and sisters” could travel to their birthplace without a British escort.

“The message I wish to convey to the world, as a sovereign state over the Chagos Archipelago, is that we will ensure wise management of its territory – over its maritime security, the conservation of the marine environment and the rights of man, especially the return of those of Chagossian origin”, said Jugnauth.

A metal plate placed under the flag pole read: “Visit of the Mauritian Delegation to the Peros Banhos Archipelago, Republic of Mauritius, as part of the scientific study of Blenheim Reef.”

The Chagos Islands were separated from Mauritius in 1965, three years before the latter gained independence from the United Kingdom. Britain loaned the territory to the United States and deported the 2,000 people who lived on the tiny islands and atolls. Most ended up in Mauritius or the Seychelles, while some went to Britain.

In 2019, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled unanimously that Britain should cede the territory to Mauritius. The UK did not.

In response to international rulings in 2019, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the UK “has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814”, adding that “Mauritius has never held sovereignty over BIOT and the Kingdom United does not recognize his claim”.

The Chagos Islands lie 2,200 kilometers (1,367 miles) from Mauritius, further complicating his claim.

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