Malé, Maldives – President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih stated on Wednesday that the Chagos dispute had been going on for far too long and an agreement on the matter had been reached with the United Kingdom back in 1992.
This is the first time President Solih commented on the matter for the first time since it was revealed that on 22 August 2022, the President of the Maldives sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Mauritius stating that the Maldives would vote in favor of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution entitled “Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965”.
Speaking at the special ceremony to commemorate the day the Maldives embraced Islam, President Solih told that some individuals were trying to mislead the public about the ongoing dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime border between the Maldives and Mauritius.
The Presidents comments regarding the matter is in response to former Attorney General – and likely the only expert of his repute in the country relating to the field – Dr. Mohamed Munawwar’s claims of Indian influence behind the sudden change in stance.
The President noted that deliberations later progressed on the matter between the Maldives and Mauritius in 2011. He added that previous governments had in the past carried forward negotiations on the matter with different parties.
He also stated that his administration is seeking a resolution to the dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime border at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), and not with any specific country. He assured that the administration is acting in the best interests of the country.
President also reaffirmed that his administration is committed to ensuring the independence and sovereignty of the country. He also noted that the Constitution stipulates Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and how to settle disputes over our maritime borders.
President Solih also expressed his disapproval of attempts to mislead the public and create strife for political gain.
AGO released a statement following the public criticism stating that the dispute case concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Mauritius and Maldives in the Indian Ocean which is currently on going in the Special Chamber of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was a different matter and that the government agreed to vote in favor of Mauritius regarding the 2019 advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.
However, the governments sudden change in the ICJ’s advisory opinion and the secrecy around the matter has lead to the government being heavily scrutinized from local political parties and the public.
Maldives had voted against the resolution in the 2019 vote at the UN along with the United States, Hungary, Israel and Australia voted against the resolution, while 56 countries abstained from the vote. 116 nations were in favor of the motion, which sets a six-month deadline for Britain to withdraw from the Chagos island chain and for the islands to be reunified with neighboring Mauritius.
Explaining the reason behind Maldives’ decision to vote no at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2019, Maldives Permanent Representative Thilmeeza Hussain told that without due process and clarity on the legal implications of the contested matter, Maldives is not in a position to support the resolution solely as a matter of decolonization.
She had also told that for the Maldives, any uncertainty concerning the issue of Chagos archipelago will have serious implications for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and to the wider security of the Indian Ocean region and that it was for these reasons the Maldives voted no, on the resolution in 2019.