Falkland Islands to hold referendum on sovereignty

 

Gavin Short announced the referendum, which visiting UK minister Jeremy Browne welcomed

The Falkland Islands will hold a referendum on its "political status" in a bid to end the dispute with Argentina over the archipelago's sovereignty.

The islands' government made the announcement ahead of the anniversary marking 30 years since the end of Argentina's 74-day occupation in 1982.

It said it wanted to send a firm message to Argentina that islanders want to remain British.

The UK prime minister said Britain would support the result of the vote.

The referendum will be organised by the Falkland Islands government and will take place in the first half of next year.

'Economic blockade'

The announcement comes amid growing tensions between the UK and Argentina surrounding the anniversary commemorations marking the islands' liberation by British forces on 14 June, 1982.

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne is currently there on an official trip.

Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands it calls the Malvinas, and wants the UK to negotiate over their rule.

Recently, UK ministers have accused Argentina of trying to impose an "economic blockade" on the islands.

The South American country has been turning away cruise ships carrying the British flag and is taking legal action against five British oil firms exploring the coast of the islands.

Start Quote

We certainly have no desire to be ruled by the government in Buenos Aires”

End Quote Gavin Short Falklands legislative assembly

Gavin Short, chairman of the islands' legislative assembly, said they were holding the referendum "to show the world just how certain we are about it [our future]".

"I have no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

"We certainly have no desire to be ruled by the government in Buenos Aires, a fact that is immediately obvious to anyone who has visited the islands and heard our views.

"But we are aware that not everybody is able to come to these beautiful islands and to see this reality for themselves.

"And the Argentine government deploys misleading rhetoric that wrongly implies that we have no strong views or even that we are being held hostage by the UK military. This is simply absurd."

'Resolute support'

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "absolutely right" that the islanders set out how they intended to "make their voices heard once more".

"And Britain will be resolute in supporting their choice," he said.

"Next year's referendum will determine beyond doubt the views of the people of the Falklands. Britain will respect and defend their choice.

"We look to all UN members to live up to their responsibilities under the UN charter and accept the islanders' decision about how they want to live."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I hope very much that Argentina, and indeed the whole of the international community, joins the UK in listening carefully to what they have to say."

The prime minister's official spokesman later confirmed the UK government had been aware of the plans and had been in discussions with the Falklands government before the announcement, but said "it was their decision and we fully support it".

Argentinian president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is due to attend a meeting of the UN's decolonisation committee on Thursday.

The Falkland Islands, a rocky archipelago in the South Atlantic, are 7,780 miles from the UK and 1,140 miles from Buenos Aires.

With the exception of the 1982 occupation by Argentina - which sparked the Falklands War - they have been under British control since 1833.

 

More on This Story

Falklands tensions

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 425.

    Argentina claiming the Falklands from us is like Canada claiming Greenland from Denmark. Sovereignty is not about proxy it's about how people are willing to be governed. I hope this referendum closes this issue once and for all.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 401.

    At the end of the day the decision lays with the people of the Falkland Islands, if they want to be British or Argentinian citizens.

    Hold the referendum, have UN, British and Argentinian observers so that all parties can be assured that the vote is fair and free, then everyone abides by the will of the people of the islands and have end to it once and for all.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 375.

    I totally support without question this proposal and the rights of the Falkland Isle’s people to remain British, this whole issue is more to do with the potential oil and gas reserves’ Could we not make a deal, give the Argentines 30% of the rights, and a small civil marine base on the islands, on condition of normalisation of trade, and a declaration of Britain’s rights over the islands.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 354.

    The reason what the residents of the Malvinas think about their sovereignty is of no consequence is very simple -- the Malvinas were illegally taken away from Argentina and will never belong to the UK or to the people who live there. They are occupiers, and that's that.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 343.

    Time to let it go Argentina. The "colonialism" claims are a bit hypocritical considering your country was created by the Spanish, and the location of the Falklands is irrelevant. You don't see Canada complaining about Saint Pierre and Miquelon being French even though it can actually be seen from the coast of Newfoundland. Stop harassing the islanders and find oil somewhere else.

 

Comments 5 of 10

 

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