The repercussions for France of Chagos islands battle


In May this year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a motion that condemned British rule over the remote Indian Ocean archipelago of the Chagos Islands and which gave London a six-month deadline to return their sovereignty to Mauritius. That followed an advisory judgment in February by the International Court of Justice that Britain’s annexation of the islands after Mauritian independence in 1968 was illegal. Central to the case is the brutal deportation of islanders to make way for a US military base on the archipelago, at Diego Garcia. As Julien Sartre reports, the developments also have ramifications for France, whose occupation of Indian Ocean islands, notably those surrounding its former colony Madagascar, is under heightened dispute.

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During a visit to France last month by Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina, he and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron announced that a bilateral commission of experts is to study the future statute of a group of small and distant islands that circle Madagascar – which has long laid claim to them – and which are currently under French rule.