Scotland ready to make history: Independence leader

Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said the "eyes of the world" were on a momentous referendum next week that could break a 307-year-old union with England.

Edinburgh: Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said the "eyes of the world" were on a momentous referendum next week that could break a 307-year-old union with England.

Salmond said the September 18 vote would be "a process of national empowerment", as new figures came out showing a record 4.3 million people had registered to vote -- higher than for any previous elections in Scotland.

"Scotland is on the cusp of making history. The eyes of the world are upon Scotland," Salmond said in Edinburgh, a day after British Prime Minister David Cameron also visited the Scottish capital to plead for the preservation of "a family of nations".

"Scotland will vote 'Yes' next Thursday because last-minute... Promises from the 'No' campaign will not fool anyone," said First Minister Salmond, who heads up Scotland's current devolved government.

"As a country we are rediscovering self-confidence, as a nation we are finding our voice.... On September 18, we the people hold our destiny in our own hands," he added.

Polls show Scottish voters are almost evenly divided between the "Yes" and the "No" although one survey so far has put the pro-independence camp just ahead of the unionists.

The most recent one, published yesterday by Scotland's Daily Record newspaper, showed 53 percent against independence and 47 percent in favour, without counting undecideds.

British media said new figures meant 97 percent of the electorate had now registered to vote, including many 16 and 17-year-olds who are allowed to take part under referendum rules.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown meanwhile accused Salmond of putting out "lies", particularly over risks to the public health service if the independence vote fails.

The vote would bring to an abrupt end a 307-year-old union between England and Scotland and create the newest state in Europe since the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Around 100 journalists from around the world were present at today's press conference, with many asking about what Scotland's relation to their country would be.

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