Falkland Islands to hold referendum on British rule
Falklands government wants to send clear signal to Argentina that islanders wish to remain British
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS will hold a referendum on its political status in a bid to end the dispute with Argentina over sovereignty.
The Falklands government announced the referendum today and hopes that it will send a firm message to Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner that islanders want to remain British.
Gavin Short, chairman of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, today accused the Argentine government of deploying "misleading rhetoric" that wrongly implies that the islanders have no strong views or are even "being held hostage" by the UK military. "This is simply absurd," he said.
Short says he has "no doubt" that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the UK and tells the Penguin News: "We are holding this referendum not because we have any doubts about who we are and what future we want, but to show the world just how certain we are about it."
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne described the announcement as a "truly significant moment" in The Daily Telegraph and David Cameron has said Britain would support the result of the vote.
The Falklands government intends to invite international observers to verify the outcome of the referendum, which will take place in the first half of next year. It will be the first vote of its kind held on the islands – although a poll held in the mid-1980s found that 94.5 per cent of islanders wanted to stay British.
According to The Guardian, it is a calculated response to Kirchner's decision to go to the UN this week to discuss colonialism. And it comes as Falklanders mark 30 years since the end of Argentina's 74-day occupation of the islands in 1982. There have been growing tensions between the UK and Argentina surrounding the anniversary commemorations. UK ministers recently accused Argentina of trying to impose an "economic blockade" on the islands, while Argentina has taken legal action against five British oil firms exploring the coast of the islands.