x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Falkland Islands to vote on its political status

The Falkland Islands is to hold a referendum next year on its political status in a bid to end Britain's dispute with Argentina.

LONDON // The Falkland Islands on Tuesday announced plans to hold a referendum next year on its political status in a bid to end Britain's dispute with Argentina.

Argentina continues to claim the South Atlantic archipelago, while the UK regards it as a self-governing territory.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would be "resolute" in supporting their choice.

The announcement comes as the islands prepare to mark 30 years since British forces ended a 74-day Argentine military occupation of the islands on June 14, 1982.

Gavin Short, chairman of the islands' legislative assembly, said he had no doubt that islanders wish to remain part of the UK.

"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," he said.

"We have thought carefully about how to convey a strong message to the outside world that expresses the views of the Falklands people in a clear, democratic and incontestable way. So 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."

Mr. Short said the referendum will take place in the first half 2013.

Diplomatic tensions between Argentina and the UK have increased in recent months ahead of the anniversary. The prospect of oil and gas finds off the islands has also fueled the spat.