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Chagos Islands: 'Emotional moment' as Mauritian flag raised on disputed British territory

The Mauritian flag has been raised for the first time on the Chagos Islands, which are controlled by Britain but claimed by Mauritius.

The flag was raised in a ceremony on Monday accompanied by the singing of Mauritius’s national anthem, according to The Guardian.

Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian ambassador to the UN, was quoted in the newspaper as saying: “We are performing the symbolic act of raising the flag, as the British have done so many times to establish colonies.

“We are, however, reclaiming what has always been our own.”


The ceremony was led by Mr Koonjul on the atoll of Peros Banhos, with a pre-recorded message from Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

According to the BBC, Mr Jugnauth said the flag-raising was “a very emotional moment and a very historic time for us, because we are able to rule in our own territory”.

A flag was also raised on the atoll of Salomon.

More on Mauritius

Mr Jugnauth said that, if the flags were removed, it would be considered a British provocation.

The islands were separated from Mauritius by the UK in 1965 and leased to the US so it could set up the Diego Garcia military base.

This resulted in some 2,000 island residents being evicted, with most ending up in Mauritius and the Seychelles.

In 2019, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the UK should give the islands back to Mauritius, a resolution that was also adopted by the UN General Assembly.

But the UK has ignored the non-binding rulings.

It has claimed that the area – which it calls a British Indian Ocean Territory – is vital to its strategic interests and has been under its sovereignty since 1814.

Last week a delegation from Mauritius set sail for the Chagos Islands for an ecological visit which also served as a means of pressing the country’s claim for the 58-island archipelago.

At the time, Mr Jugnauth said the expedition was a “scientific study” of a partly-submerged reef but was also a “concrete step” towards Mauritius “exercising its sovereignty”.


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