Dr. Shaheed: Letter to Mauritius might have been a meticulous move by the president

Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. (File Photo/United Nations)

Former Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shaheed has underscored the possibility of the letter to the Mauritian prime minister by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in connection to the maritime border dispute between the Maldives and Mauritius being a meticulous move on the president’s side.

The letter by President Solih, while the border dispute was ongoing International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS), informed the Maldivian government’s decision to vote in favor of Mauritius in their claim of sovereignty over Chagos Islands.

Dr. Shaheed, in a tweet on Friday, said although the president’s letter is not disclosed to the public, it should be disclosed to the parliament.

He alleged that the Mauritian government had shared the letter with foreign third parties.

Dr. Shaheed described the president’s decision to vote in favor Mauritius should the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirming Mauritian sovereignty over Chagos Islands be submitted to the United Nations (UN) again, without backing down on Maldives’ claims on the maritime border, possibly as a smart political tactic.

“There is a high probability of considering the letter as a meticulous move by the president if it had been sent at that particular time in line with the Maldives’ litigation strategy and the advice of the legal team,” he said.

If so, he said those who are strongly encouraging the president against disclosing the letter, are seriously doing something that would damage the government.

While there are many disagreements regarding the border dispute – Dr. Shaheed, in an earlier tweet, calling to disclose all files relating to Chagos Islands, said disclosure of information by the government strengthens trust and encourages professional journalism.

On this note, he called to disclose all files maintained by the President’s Office, Foreign Ministry, Attorney General’s Office and Maldives’ diplomatic missions based in New York, United States and London, UK, with respect to Chagos Islands starting from 1982.

In another statement before that, Dr. Shaheed said Maldives’ policy with respect to Chagos Islands has always been the recognition of Mauritius’ sovereignty over the territory.

ITLOS, on April 28th, concluded that the conflicting Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between Mauritius and Maldives will be divided between the two using the equidistance formula as argued by Maldives in the case.

Thus, Maldives gains 47,232 square kilometers from the 95,563 square kilometers of maritime territory in dispute while Mauritius gains 45,331 square kilometers. 

The government has argued that Maldives loses no maritime territory in light of the ruling while those who disagree claim Maldives is entitled to the entire 95,563 square kilometers of maritime territory in dispute.