Clear message to Argentina: 99.8% of Falkland Islanders want to stay British
Despite frequent snow showers and zero temperatures, the celebratory party had already started on Arch Green in the centre of Port Stanley as the result of the Falklands’ referendum was a foregone conclusion, but the loud cheer that went up from the assembled gathering could be heard all over the town as the news filtered through that only 3 persons had voted against the Falklands remaining a self-governing dependent territory of Great Britain.
1,513 of the 1,518 persons, who cast their vote, put an X alongside the YES box. This gave an overwhelming 99.8% victory to those who wish the Islands to remain British.
Perhaps more importantly was the 92% turn-out of voters which emphasizes the strong desire of the Falkland Islands population to exercise their right to self-determination and to make their voice heard.
A vast array of British and Foreign media had gathered in the Islands to report on the referendum and the news of the resounding 'YES' vote was soon reverberating all around the world.
'The message is loud and clear', said Member of the Legislative Assembly Gavin Short, 'that we want to stay British and Argentina cannot ignore the wishes of the people'.
He added: 'The United Nations cannot ignore the outcome either as we have ensured that the vote was conducted in a fair and democratic manner and supervised by an International team of observers from North, Central and South America'.
Mr. Brad Smith, the Head of the International Observation Mission, in a statement, released immediately after the result was announced, said: 'It is our finding that the Falkland Islands referendum process was free and fair, reflecting the democratic will of the voters of the Falkland Islands'.
While the Argentine Government has repeatedly declared that they would not recognize the result of the referendum, there is no doubt the message from the Falklands cannot be mistaken and the 99.8% vote in favour of the population wishing to remain British will be frequently brought to their attention whenever future calls are made for Britain to engage in negotiations over the sovereignty of the Islands.
Several Argentine Nationals who live on the Islands had indicated that they too would vote 'YES' for the Islands to remain British, pinpointing the unstable Argentine Government as one of their reasons and because they enjoy a high standard of living and fantastic education opportunities for their children as another reason.
Report by a Special Correspondent from Stanley