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Maldives votes UK control over Chagos

Ahmed Aiham
23 May 2019, MVT 16:25
Diego Garcia. A United States military base situated in British Indian Ocean Territory, situated south of Maldives. PHOTO: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ahmed Aiham
23 May 2019, MVT 16:25

Maldives voted in favour of the United Kingdom (UK) to retain occupation of the Chagos Islands, during the United Nations General Assembly, on Wednesday.

However, UK suffered a colossal defeat during the vote as 116 countries voted against the country. While 56 countries abstained from the vote, only six countries backed the UK, which includes the United States, Hungary, Israel and Australia.

The decision resulted in a non-binding resolution setting a six-month period, demanding Britain withdraw from the Chagos Islands, and reunify the islands with neighbouring Mauritius.

The motion brought forward an advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February, claiming that separation of the islands was illegal.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affair's Communication Director Miuvan Mohamed, Maldives voted in favour of UK in order to protect the country's maritime boundaries.

In a situation where the islands are reclaimed by Mauritius, the country's 200-mile wide Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending from the Chagos Archipelago could cause a reduction of Maldivian EEZ.

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Maldives has forwarded the issue to the UN.

Mauritius argues that the islands were given up in a bid to gain independence from the UK.

The entire population of the islands, amounting to approximately 3,000 Chagossians, were deported and under an agreement, prevented from returning.

"The detachment (or excision) of the Chagos Archipelago was carried out without any regard to the will of the people of Mauritius, including those who lived in the Chagos Archipelago,", said Mauritius in their written statement to the ICJ.

England, in 1965, bought the island chain for MVR 56,950,200‬. A military base was then developed by the United States of America (US). in Diego Garcia - the largest island of the Chagos Archipelago - following evictions efforts between 1967 and 1973.

America's lease over the territory expires in 2036.

The Chagos Islands are situated roughly 500km south of Maldives, constitutes of seven atolls and 60 islands.

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