France urged to return the arbitrarily detained Malagasy islands. Photo : ADV
For the first time, African opinion leaders, associated with guests from Europe, discussed the “Islands of Hope” and the political, economic and geostrategic issues related to their illegal occupation by France.
In turn, Toussaint Alain, director of the Panafrican news agency, African Daily Voice (ADV), André Christian Dieudonné Mailhol, Malagasy presidential candidate, and Kemi Seba, president of the Panafrican Urgencies NGO, denounced the French colonial system.
The participants regretted that there are still territories occupied on African soil. This is the case of the Eparses Islands located in the Mozambique Channel for four of them – Juan de Nova, Europa, Bassas da India, the Glorious -, the fifth – Tromelin – being east of Madagascar.
Administered by France for more than a century, they are today integrated within the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF).
According to Toussaint Alain, the maintenance of French sovereignty over these islands can be explained for economic and geostrategic reasons. The area has significant oil and gas deposits. According to the same sources, the basements of the Mozambique Channel would contain between 6 and 12 billion barrels of oil and between 3 to 5 billion cubic meters of gas.
The return of the Scattered Islands to the fold of Madagascar would guarantee the development of the country. Indeed, potential revenues are estimated at several hundred billion dollars. This manna would inevitably change the face and destiny of the Big Island: construction of hydroelectric dams, housing, modernization of communication routes, schools, universities, hospitals, electrification, access to drinking water, etc.
Historical reminder : on October 14, 1958, Madagascar becomes the Malagasy Autonomous Republic. In 1960, during the negotiations that preceded independence, the leaders of Madagascar questioned French sovereignty over the islands. It has been therefore 58 years that these territories are occupied by France. For Pan-Africanist activist Kemi Seba, “France must return to Madagascar the lands it stole”.
In the final communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the participants asked France to “ensure the respect and application of international rules” in the sub-region. In addition, they condemn “the intransigence of the former colonial power and all the (French) decisions undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Madagascar”.
While campaigning for an agreement negotiated under the aegis of the United Nations, the African Union and the Indian Ocean Commission, experts urge France to restore “immediately and unconditionally the Malagasy islands arbitrarily detained”. Moreover, they reject any other solution, in particular that of “co-managing” these territories.