Chagos must be given to Maldives: Speaker Nasheed

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (L) and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed (C) | Photo: Sun

Malé, Maldives – Speaker of Parliament and Former President, Mohamed Nasheed has told that Chagos Islands should be given to Maldives.

Speaker Nasheed said this in an article titled “Chagos : A uninhabited island of Maldives” published yesterday.

Nasheed’s article said that when the British leaves Chagos, the sovereignty of the island will first turn to the people of Chagos but that no people reside in the island and closest inhabited island is Diego Garcia.

He also stated that the people who were taken from Mauritius from Chagos were not Chagossians and that it was Maldivians who were based there and fishing in the waters nearby. He also added that this was mainly done by people of Fuvahmulah atoll of Maldives.

When the British withdraw from the Chagos Ridge, Diego Garcia and some other provinces will fall under Mauritian sovereignty, but the sovereignty of Chagos belongs to the Maldivians. Mauritius has always talked about the division of the Chagos Ridge.

Speaker of Parliament and Former President, Mohamed Nasheed

While this is the second time Speaker Nasheed has claimed Chagos to have been historically a part of Maldives, speaking on the matter during the emergency motion filed by the opposition to maintain the governments stand against Mauritius in a parliament sitting, Speaker Nasheed told that history supports that Chagos was once a part of Maldivian territory.

Nasheed went on to state that during his presidency, in an official visit to the United Kingdom that he had told the government that the cultural and historical proof that Chagos Islands was once a part of Maldives was observed by Maldivians. 

He also told that since ancient times that the British had implemented their interests in the Indian Ocean via Maldives and that Maldives would never do anything which might result in any part of the Maldivian territory to be lost. 

In 2010, the UK established a no-fishing protected area around the Chagos archipelago but did not set the boundaries. Speaker Nasheed also added that following the discussions held between the Maldivian and Mauritian governments in 2011 during his presidency that both governments had agreed to hold talks with the UK government to find a solution.

Nasheed also added that Maldives never agreed on Mauritian claim over the Chagos Islands. 

My point is that it [Chagos archipelago] is ours [Maldivians]. Chagos is ours and we cannot let it go.

Speaker of Parliament and Former President, Mohamed Nasheed

The emergency motion by the opposition came after 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”.

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.

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.