While the Chagossians were celebrating the historic vote in the UN, the Mauritian Government revealed that it had stabbed them in the back. Speaking after the vote Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian representative at the UN, said: “We have given the US full comfort of a long-term lease [for the Diego Garcia base] that would be renewable [if sovereignty passed to Mauritius].”
This is a very intriguing position for Mauritius to take given that Jeremy Corbyn, who is likely to become the next British Prime Minister, appears to have every intention of returning the Chagossians home. After all he founded, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands in 2008 which has been consistently pressuring the British Government to resolve matter.
In 2015, the vice-chair of the Group asked in Parliament when the British Government would announce its decision on the resettlement of the Chagos Islanders. The Secretary of State replied that steady progress was being made on the further analysis of resettlement. However, the US military is vehemently opposed to any form of resettlement and would certainly find it easier to enforce its will on an acquiescent Mauritian Government than to negotiate with than Jeremy Corbyn.
It should be remembered that Mauritius has an ailing textile industry which is propped up partly by duty free import quotas into the USA. However, to benefit from these, Mauritius has been granted a special exemption from the condition that raw materials must originate from the USA. This can be withdraw by the USA at any time with a consequent impact on local employment. What Mauritian government is going to risk this by insisting that the Chagossians be allowed home?