Britain’s ownership of the Chagos archipelago in Mauritius has been formally challenged after the Mauritian ambassador to the UN, Jagdish Koonjul, raised his country’s flag above the atoll of Peros Banhos.
In a national event on Monday, Mauritian officials sang their country’s national anthem and the red, blue, yellow and green standard was raised up the flagpole.
Accoeding to Koonjul, they performed the symbolic act of raising the flag as the British have done so many times to establish colonies but this time however, they are reclaiming what has always been our theirs.
A pre-recorded message by the Mauritian prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth was broadcast on a speaker to the Chagossians, Mauritian officials as well as media assembled on the beach.
“This is the first time Mauritius has led an expedition to this part of its territory,” he said. “I feel sad that I have not been able to be part of this historic visit.
“I’m delighted that our Chagossian brothers and sisters are able to travel to their birthplace without any foreign escort.
“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.”
Shortly after the flag was raised, the Mauritian prime minister noted that the occassion is a very emotional moment for him and a very historic time for his country 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, Jugnauth said If they remove the flag, it will amount to a provocation on their part.
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