11 Mar 2013

Falklands referendum: voting continues for second day

Falkland islanders are voting in a referendum to decide if the disputed territory should remain part of Britain.

Voting started yesterday in the poll that was called in response to Argentina’s increasing claims to the islands, which they call Las Malvinas.

The tiny population is expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of retaining its status as a United Kingdom overseas territory and the results will be revealed in the early hours of Tuesday.

Observers have been brought in to monitor the referendum, to ensure it is free and fair but the result is unlikely to satisfy Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is using the issue to bolster her domestic popularity.

The referendum is taking place over two days to ensure as many of the population of just over 2,500 are able to vote. The question posed on the ballot is: Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom? Yes or No.

In an open letter to David Cameron earlier this year, President Kirchner urged Britain to abide by a 1960 UN resolution calling on members to “end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”.

Falkland Islands UK Representative Sukey Cameron suggested yesterday the territory could become independent in the future. She told Sky News: “That may well happen in 50, 70, 100 years’ time but, now we are very happy with our relationship as it stands with the UK,”.

“There are some people on the island who may vote ‘no’ but voting ‘no’ isn’t necessarily voting yes to Argentina.”

Uruguay’s Minister of Defence, Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro, was today reported to have slammed opposition party members who travelled to the island to observe the election as an “enormous shame” to the country.