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Mauritius Reasserts Its Claim On Chagos Archipelago

Panafrican News Agency, 15 December 2000

Port Louis - Mauritian Prime minister Anerood Jugnauth told diplomats Thursday night that he looked forward to enlisting international support for the return of the Chagos archipelago to Mauritius.

The archipelago, a set of 65 small islets, 1920 km north of Mauritius, was detached in the 1960s by the British government prior to the independence of Mauritius in 1968.

The US operates a military base on Diego Garcia, one of the islands.

Jugnauth was speaking at the annual dinner in honour of diplomats held at the Domaine Les Pailles, near the capital.

"We reassert strongly our rightful claim on that part of our territory which had been illegally detached," he said.

Jugnauth also spoke of the sovereignty of Mauritius on the Tromelin islands, an issue which still remains unsolved.

"We hope that through constructive dialogue and goodwill, these long-standing territorial disputes would be settled to our satisfaction," the Prime minister said.

Speaking on human rights, Jugnauth indicated that his government adheres to the ideals of freedom, tolerance and mutual respect "which we believe are the very essence of democracy."

"Without these values, peace and social harmony become elusive and volatile. In the same breadth, any violation of human rights should be condemned unreservedly," he added.

On the domestic front, he said the government has to address numerous fundamental problems. These included unemployment, depreciation of the Euro and structural weaknesses facing the traditional sectors of the economy.

He said emphasis would be laid on the tapping of the vast possibilities offered by the new economy. "Because this is where our future lies," Jugnauth added.

He appealed to foreign governments as well as their private sector operators to participate in building the blocks of the new economy. "We need technology, we need capital, we need markets," he said.

Jugnauth recalled how 20 years ago, with the support of friendly countries, Mauritius successfully launched a new pillar of its economy, the textile and the export-processing sector.

"I am confident we can again rely on your dedicated support to transform this time our island into a digital free zone," he said.