The Government of the Falkland Islands has announced that a referendum will be held where Islanders will be asked to express their preference on the Islands’ political status. The referendum will take place in the first half of 2013.

The Chairman of the Falklands Island Legislative Assembly, Gavin Short, 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.

“But we are aware that not everyone is able to come to these beautiful Islands and to see this reality for themselves. And the Argentine Government deploys misleading rhetoric that wrongly implies that we have no strong views or even that we are being held hostage by the UK military. This is simply absurd.

“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. This referendum will be organised by the Falkland Islands Government and will take place in the first half of 2013. We will invite independent, international observers to observe the process and verify its outcome. Exact timings, the specific wording of the question, and other details will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are holding this referendum not because we have any doubts about who we are and what future we want, but to show the world just how very certain we are about that.”

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has responded to this announcement. Mr Cameron said:

I have always said that 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.

“Now the Argentine Government wants to put that choice in doubt again, 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 their choice.

“Next year’s referendum will determine beyond doubt the views of the people of the Falklands. Britain will respect and defend their choice. We look to all UN members to live up to their responsibilities under the UN charter and accept the Islanders’ decision about how they want to live.”

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