Falkland Islanders ‘must send message about wishes’ in poll

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Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Falkland Islanders to seize the opportunity presented by an upcoming referendum to send a “definitive” message to the international community about their wishes for the future of their homeland.

Falklanders will vote in March on whether they wish to maintain their status as a UK overseas territory, in a poll designed to fend off increasingly aggressive Argentine claims to the islands Buenos Aires knows as Las Malvinas.

In a Christmas message yesterday, Mr Cameron accused Argentine president Cristina Kirchner of “misrepresenting” the facts about the Falklands in her campaign to reopen the sovereignty question, and said her stance represented a challenge to islanders’ identity and economic wellbeing.

Looking ahead to the referendum, he said: “I value deeply the UK’s relationship with the Falklands and hope it will long continue. But it is not my decision, nor is it Argentina’s, it is yours and yours alone.

“This referendum is true democracy in action, an opportunity to show the international community what you want for your future and to show it definitively. I hope all of you seize it.”

He added: “It is a pity that Argentina persists in behaving this way. The UK would like to have a more positive relationship with the government of Argentina.

“But the British Government will not stand by and allow your human rights to be ignored. There is no justification for any country to try and deny you the right to democracy and self-determination, nor to make attempts to isolate you, block your trade and undermine your legitimate fisheries, hydrocarbons and tourism industries.”

The Queen has appointed a new Governor for the Falklands. Colin Roberts will take up his posting at Government House in Port Stanley in April 2014, replacing current Governor Nigel Haywood.