Falklands government plans 2013 referendum on status | News | DW | 12.06.2012
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Falklands government plans 2013 referendum on status

The government of the contested Falkland Islands said on Tuesday that it would organize a referendum on the "political status" of the islands next year. The result is not in doubt, but it may not satisfy Argentina.

The chairman of the Falkland Islands' legislature, Gavin Short, announced on Tuesday that the British territory situated close to Argentina in the Atlantic Ocean would hold a referendum on its political status in the first half of 2013.

"We have decided, with the full support of the British government, to hold a referendum on the Falkland Islands to eliminate any possible doubt about our wishes," Short said, saying he wanted to hold the vote "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."

Short said he was in no doubt that Falklands residents "wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom."

Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez Kirchner gives a speech in Ushuaia, Argentina, 02 April 2012, during an act on the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the war with United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands

Argentina's Fernandez wants the islands' status changed, but residents are unlikely to agree

The Falkland Islands are claimed by both Britain and Argentina, and the two countries fought a war over the territories in the 1980s after an Argentine invasion.

British parliamentarian Jeremy Browne, who is the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, is currently visiting the Falklands, described the decision to hold a referendum as "a truly significant moment," according to the Press Association in London.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez was set to press her country's case for the islands at a meeting of the UN's decolonization committee in New York on Thursday. People in Argentina refer to the islands as Islas Malvinas.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the move to allow the islanders to vote, saying "Britain will respect and defend their choice."

"Thirty years ago [the people in the Falklands] made clear that they wanted to stay British. That's why British forces bravely liberated the island from Argentine invaders."

In the brief 1982 war, 649 Argentine soldiers and 255 British troops were killed.

msh/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters)