The African Union has ordered Britain to withdraw from the Chagos Islands and end its “continued colonial administration”.
This follows the expiry of a UN deadline requiring the UK to leave the territory of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius on November 22.
The UN General Assembly voted in favour of Britain in May, effectively returning the islands to Mauritius.
The AU told Britain to comply with the UN resolution but the UK insists it does not recognize Mauritius’ sovereignty claim.
“The UK has no doubt as to our sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement on November 5.
International Court of Justice president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, in the ruling in February, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.
“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added. “The UK has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible and that all member states must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”
Failure by the UK to vacate drew demonstrations outside the British High Commission in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, on Friday.
Reuters reported that the protesters demanded Britain cede the Chagos Islands to Mauritius and said they wanted to return to the archipelago where they were born.
They said they can escalate the matter at the International Criminal Court.
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said UK’s refusal to give up control of the islands was a violation of international law.
“The United Kingdom cannot profess to be a champion of the rule of law and human rights whilst maintaining an illegal colonial administration,” he told Parliament on Thursday.