Falkland Islanders Vote To Stay British, 1,517-3

 
on March 11 2013 11:28 PM

 

The people of the Falkland Islands have voted overwhelmingly to stay British, the BBC reported Monday night.

Of 1,517 votes cast in the two-day referendum in the remote South Atlantic islands, 1,513 were in favor of keeping the current status, while just three votes were against.

There was a turnout of more than 90 percent from 1,672 British citizens eligible to vote in a population of about 2,900.

The question put to voters was: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"

“Speaks for itself, I think," said local government spokesman Darren Christie, CNN reported.

The vote follows pressure from Argentina over its claims to the islands, more than 30 years after the Falklands War.

Dick Sawle, a member of the island's legislative assembly, said: "To get a 99 percent result on the 'yes' vote, with only three voting 'no', I think is an absolutely phenomenal result which will send out the strongest possible message to the rest of the world about our right to self-determination - a right that was fought for in 1982, and which we have honored tonight."

International observers monitored the vote, including representatives of Chile and Mexico - defying Argentina's request for Latin American countries not to take part.

Most Argentines regard the islands, which they call Las Malvinas, as Argentine and their recovery is enshrined in their constitution.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said the inhabitants' wishes are meaningless in what is a territorial issue.

"My vote is yes. ... I believe we are like other people in the world, and we are entitled to determine our own future. ... I think it's dreadful that someone like Argentina should be trying to deny us that," Sharon Halford, a member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, told CNN before results were announced.

"They obviously don't care what their own people think, but worldwide, everybody has the right to determine their own future and why should we not be the same?"

Pictures at the polls showed some residents of the islands draped in Union Jacks as they cast their votes. Cars displayed banners that said "We're British and proud."

The Argentine Embassy in London said Friday that the referendum had no legitimacy, characterizing it as "a further attempt by the British to manipulate the question of the Malvinas Islands."

Because the islands are subject to a sovereignty dispute, it argues, "the United Kingdom has no right to alter the legal status of these territories, not even under the guise of a hypothetical 'referendum.' "

In April 1982, the Argentines invaded the Falklands without warning and overwhelmed the British garrison. In two months of fighting, 255 British and about 650 Argentine servicemen were killed, along with three Falklands civilians, before Argentine forces surrendered.

British officials have rejected Fernandez's call for negotiations, saying the people of the Falkland Islands have chosen to be British and "have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the U.N. Charter."

"There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The islanders can't just be written out of history," read a statement from the British Foreign Office.

"As such, there can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falklands Islands unless and until such time as the islanders so wish."

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