RESIDENTS of the Falkland Islands have voted almost unanimously to stay under British rule in a referendum aimed at winning global sympathy as Argentina intensifies its sovereignty claim.
The official count late on Monday showed that 99.8 per cent of islanders voted in favour of remaining a British Overseas Territory in the two-day poll, which was rejected by Argentina as a meaningless publicity stunt.
There were only three “no” votes out of about 1,500 cast.
The Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday he was “over the moon” with the result, during a phone call with Gavin Short of the Falklands Legislative Assembly. Cameron said he hoped the result would be recognised around the globe.
“Surely this must be the strongest message we can get out to the world,” said Roger Edwards, one of the Falklands’ assembly’s eight elected members.
“That we are content, that we wish to retain the status quo ... with the right to determine our own future and not become a colony of Argentina.”
Turnout was 92 per cent among the 1,649 Falklands-born and long-term residents registered to vote.
Three decades after hundreds died when Argentina and Britain went to war over the far-flung South Atlantic archipelago, islanders have been perturbed by Argentina’s increasingly vocal claim over the Malvinas, as the islands are called in Spanish.
Argentina’s fiery left-leaning leader Cristina Fernandez has piled pressure on Britain to negotiate the sovereignty of the islands, something the UK refuses to do unless the islanders request talks.