UK refuses to return Chagos Islands to Mauritius

LONDON

Britain on Friday said it has every right to hold onto the disputed Chagos Islands, despite calls to return them to Mauritius. 

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) insisted that the U.K. has “no doubts” to its sovereignty over the islands.

“The U.K. has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814,” the FCO said in a statement.

“Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the BIOT and the UK does not recognise its claim,” it said.

Britain was given a deadline, which has expired now, in May by the UN to hand over the sovereignty to Mauritius.

Missing the deadline, the U.K. has been described as an “illegal colonial occupier” by Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

In the late 18th century, France took control of the Chagos Archipelago and Seychelles as dependencies of Mauritius.

Slaves were brought in from African countries to work in the coconut plantations there.

In the early 19th century, the British took over the islands.

Mauritius and its dependencies were officially proclaimed a colony of Britain in 1814 under the Treaty of Paris.

The Chagos Archipelago was separated from Mauritius in 1965 by the U.K.

Mauritius claims it was forced to give it up in exchange for independence, which it gained in 1968.

Seychelles was later detached from Mauritius and became a separate colony of Britain in 1903 and an independent nation in 1976.
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