Falklands to hold referendum on `political status`

PM David Cameron extended strong support to the island government`s decision to hold a referendum on its "political status" in 2013.

Updated: Jun 12, 2012, 21:55 PM IST

London: Amidst renewed tensions between Britain and Argentina on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war, Prime Minister David Cameron today extended strong support to the island government`s decision to hold a referendum on its "political status" in 2013.

In 1982, fighting during the prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher led to the deaths of 649 Argentine and 255 British servicemen.
Argentina continues to press its claim of sovereignty over the South American islands.

In a strongly worded statement, Cameron accused the Argentinian government of trying to shout down the voices of islanders on the Falklands on whether they wanted to stay British in the referendum in early 2013.

Recent tensions between Britain and Argentina included the former accusing Argentina of trying to impose an "economic blockade" on the islands by turning away cruise ships carrying the British flag.

Earlier this year, the Royal Navy deployed HMS Dauntless, a sophisticated destroyer warship, to the islands, which it said was a routine deployment.
Gavin Short, chairman of the islands` legislative assembly, today said: "I have no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom."

"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 added.

Supporting the referendum, Cameron said that Buenos Aires wants to put the islanders` choice of sovereignty in doubt "by shouting down the islanders` ability to speak for themselves and punishing them for exercising their own free choice.

That`s why it`s absolutely right that the islanders have today set out how they intend to make their voices heard once more. And Britain will be resolute in supporting that choice."
"I have always said it is up to the Falkland Islanders themselves to choose whether they want to be British and that the world should listen to their views. Thirty years ago they made clear that they wanted to stay British. That`s why British forces bravely liberated the island from Argentine invaders," he added.
Cristina Fernandez, Argentinian prime minister, is reported to be taking up the Falklands issue at the UN this week, and also at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.