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An undated file photo shows Diego Garcia, the largest island in the
Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean leased from Britain in 1966. REUTERS/HO/U.S. Navy

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The African Union ordered Britain on Friday to withdraw from the Chagos Islands and end its “continued colonial administration” after a United Nations deadline for it to do so expired.

The Chagos Islands belong to the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, according to the advisory opinion the top U.N. court issued in February. The U.N. General Assembly in May voted in favour of Britain returning the islands to Mauritius and set a deadline for Nov. 22.

In a statement the African Union called on Britain to comply with the U.N. resolution.

Britain does not recognise 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,” the Foreign Office said in a statement on Nov. 5.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth called Britain’s refusal to give up control of the islands 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.

The only inhabited island of the Indian Ocean archipelago is home to the Diego Garcia U.S. military base, rented out by Britain and a bomber base for the Air Force.

Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Frances Kerry

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