No decisions to change on Chagos issue: Gov't

There are no further decisions that the Maldives government has to make regarding Chagos, and there will be no need for former President Abdulla Yameen to bring any changes to the decisions if he is re-elected as president, Presidential Spokesperson Miuwan Mohamed has said.

Chagos is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 islands in the Indian Ocean about 500 kilometers south of the Maldives archipelago. For decades, Mauritius and the United Kingdom have been in dispute over ownership of the Chagos Islands after Mauritius claimed the Chagos Archipelago as Mauritian territory when it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1968. Maldives became embroiled in the dispute as the country's EEZ overlaps with that of Chagos.

The government recently relayed to the Mauritius government that the Maldives would vote at the United Nations (UN) to recognize Chagos as part of Mauritius. Former President Yameen has said the government's decision on the matter is unacceptable and that he would change the government's stand on the matter if he is re-elected. He went on to state that supporting Mauritius meant being willing to give up part of the Maldives' territory to Mauritius.

Responding to a question from a journalist on the government's stand on the Charges issue at a Wednesday press conference, Miuwan said there is no further decision to be taken by any party on the Chagos issue, and the current government's decision would not have to be changed.

"The current decision is a decision by an international court. The case is ongoing at ITLOS, again, an international tribunal. Therefore, there is no need to change the stand taken by the Maldives government in this regard," Miuwan said.

Miuwan said if President Yameen wishes to defy a decision of an international court, it is the former president's own choice and that he does not wish to say anything about it. However, there is nothing that any further changes in the Maldives' stand would change, he said. He further added that the Maldives would vote in accordance with the foreign policy of the government at that given time if the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is submitted to the UN General Assembly for enforcement.

"Our foreign policy supports decolonization. So we will vote accordingly in our government. Then if they [the opposition] support slavery, they will change their stand." Miuwan said.