PORT LOUIS, (Mauritius): Mauritius has welcomed the UN postal agency's decision to ban British stamps from being used on the Chagos archipelago, calling it a victory for the island nation in its decades-long dispute with London.
The vote by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations agency focusing on the mail sector, follows a longstanding spat between Mauritius and Britain over the Chagos Islands, where London and Washington operate a joint military base.
"This is another big step in favour of the recognition of the sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos," Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said late Wednesday.
Although Mauritius became independent in 1968, the Chagos archipelago remained under British control, sparking protests by Chagossians, who accuse London of carrying out an "illegal occupation" and barring them from their homeland.
Following Tuesday's vote, "the UPU will stop registering, distributing and transmitting stamps" bearing the words British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the name given by Britain to the archipelago, Jugnauth said.
In 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that Britain should give up control of the islands.
Later that year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising that "the Chagos Archipelago forms an integral part of the territory of Mauritius" and urged UN agencies "to support the decolonization of Mauritius".
There was no response from Britain to Tuesday's vote which took place in Abidjan.
Britain insists the archipelago belongs to London and has renewed a lease agreement with the United States to use Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, until 2036. Diego Garcia played a strategic role during the Cold War, and then as an airbase, including during the war in Afghanistan.