The Falkland Islands will vote on Sunday and Monday, in a referendum designed to show that they wish to remain British and strengthen the Islanders case for self-determination against pressure from Argentina, which maintains that the Islands belong to them.
The referendum called and organised by the Falkland Islanders themselves, and is likely to end with a 100% vote in favour of remaining part of Britain.
Britain and Argentina fought a short but bloody war over the Falkland Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean, in 1982. Argentina invaded the Islands, which were then taken back by British armed forces. Although another war is very unlikely indeed, Argentina has once again been raising the rhetoric increasing diplomatic pressure for control of the Islands to be handed over. The residents of the Island, however, consider themselves to be British, and the British government has pledged to support their right to self-determination.
In a move which is designed to make a political point more than it is to actually gauge the wishes of the public, the 1,672 eligible voters on the Islands will vote on whether they wish to remain a self-governing British overseas territory.
“We would be deluding ourselves if we thought that Argentina would change overnight, but we hope it’ll be a strong message to them and to others,” legislative assembly member Jan Cheek told AFP.
Tension over the status of the Islands has been increasing since 2010, when British companies began prospecting for oil in the seas around the Islands, sparking renewed pressure from Argentina. Both sides have courted international opinion on the issue, but Britain has failed to win backing for its claim on the Islands – even from key partners such as the United States (which allowed its military bases to be used by Britain in the 1982 war).
The Falkland Islanders hope that a referendum result showing a resounding YES to remaining part of Britain will send a powerful message to the rest of the world, and strengthen their case with for self-determination with the international community.
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