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LALIT reminds Government on its Commitment to Take the UK to the ICJ


6th February 2015

The Right Hon Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH,
Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Home Affairs, Minister for Rodrigues and National Development Unit
New Treasury Bldg, Intendance Street,
Port Louis

Dear Sir,

RE: Government Commitment to Take the UK to the ICJ

LALIT is writing you this open letter to call for a public clarification on your newly elected Government’s strategy on Chagos. On 22nd December 2014, we wrote to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Etienne Sinatambou, to appreciate that, at long last, political parties that are in Government have taken a firm stand in favour of putting a case before the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the issue of the re-unification of Mauritius through the completion of Mauritian de-colonization by means of the re-inclusion of Diego Garcia and the whole of Chagos within the Republic. This huge step means putting into practice what is already in the Constitution. We presume the new Government’s intention is to request an “advisory opinion”, given that the UK does not accept binding jurisdiction from any present (or even former) Commonwealth member or ex-colony.

Clear Commitment of Lalyans Lepep during electoral campaign for December 2014 General Elections
Mr Anil Gayan, candidate of Lalyans Lepep, in a political broadcast on MBC, took a clear public commitment that should Lalyans Lepep come to power, Mauritius will go to the International Court of Justice on the issue of Chagos. This, we believe should be done.

Cabinet Decision on the illegality of “Marine Protected Area”
In the Cabinet meeting of 9th January 2015, to complement Government’s stand to go to ICJ, Cabinet reaffirms its position on the illegality of the “Marine Protected Area”. We quote from Cabinet Decisions – 9 January 2015 on your PMO website:

“3. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the proceedings initiated by Mauritius on 20 December 2010 against the United Kingdom ...[under] the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea...
Government wishes to state that –
(a) it maintains the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos Archipelago, and the illegality of the excision of the Chagos Archipelago from the territory of Mauritius prior to its accession to independence; and
(b) it affirms in full the stand adopted by Mauritius with regard to the illegality of the “marine protected area” purportedly established in 2010 by the UK Government around the Chagos Archipelago. It looks forward to the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal....”

Position on Chagos in the 27 January President’s Speech on behalf of Government needs clarification
We quote from the site under the heading GOVERNMENT PROGRAMME 2015 – 2019:

“280. Government is much concerned at the lack of progress made to date to resolve the long-standing dispute over the Chagos Archipelago. Every effort will be made to speed up diplomatic talks with the UK and US Governments and actively seek the support of the international community in this respect.

“276. Government will, in collaboration with international cooperating partners and like-minded countries continue to promote and preserve peace and security in Africa and the Indian Ocean region.”

Critical times
In 2015, we are in critical times.

The illegal lease’s 50-year duration expires in 2016. According to this illegal lease, negotiations for renewal of the lease were supposed to begin, and were no doubt begun, in 2014. This is why the USA is seeking so desperately to penetrate Mauritian society, whether through ONGs, visits to schools, Youth Ministry penetration, a flurry of scholarships, etc as well obviously as upgrading their State of Forces Agreement (SOFA) if possible, and penetrating services like Customs and Coast Guard.

The recent Ramgoolam Government criminally neglected the Diego Garcia issue, and successive Governments before that have done the same, this ever since Independence. Navin Ramgoolam took the dossier out of the hands of his Foreign Minister Arvind Boolell, and set up a Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office to supposedly look after the issue personally. He announced that he had a “secret” strategy. Today it is high time that whatever this strategy was be made public. There is no place for secret strategies in diplomacy against imperialist powers.

Now, the Government of Mauritius has only until next year to act so as to stop the renewal of that ever-illegal lease between the UK and the USA for the island of Diego Garcia, on which, as you know, there is the huge US military base, with nuclear materials and hardware. This base was the direct cause of the cruel displacement of the entire Chagos population, even though it was supposed to be a mere “communications station” as you have often informed the public. Last week there is new evidence of US torture operations of the most shameful kind, dishonestly covered up by the UK executive, being carried out on this part of Mauritius. On principle, our territory should not be up for use for B-52 bombers and other aggressive machines of war like nuclear submarines, in any case. Mauritius has not declared war on any of the countries that the US has invaded from our territory. We must get international support for the decolonization and re-unification of Mauritius, on the basis of the need to get the base closed, as well as on principles of national sovereignty. There is the general need for peace in the Indian Ocean region, as well as respect for the new Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear-Arms Free Africa. At the same time, Government should, in liason with Chagossians, elaborate a re-settlement plan.

In LALIT, to be frank, we are disappointed at the apparent neglect of any mention in the President’s Speech of the commitment to taking the case to the ICJ. We hope this is not a sign of capitulation in exchange for some kind of UK-Mauritius Trade and Investment venture. The Diego Garcia issue has been haunted, in the past, and up to now, by this kind of concession made by the UK and USA to the Mauritian capitalist class, in exchange for docile negotiations on Diego instead of proper principled action. Going to the ICJ would be a fine example of proper principled action.

Yours Sincerely,

Ragini Kistnasamy

Copy to: The Press