Falklands to vote on current status on March 10-11

Falkland Islanders will be asked specifically whether they want the archipelago to retain its status as a British overseas territory in a referendum on March 10 and 11, its government announced.

Confirming the date and the final wording of the question, the referendum is intended at sending Argentina an unambiguous verdict from the 3,000-odd islanders, amid tension between London and Buenos Aires over sovereignty.

Britain has held the South Atlantic Ocean islands since 1833 but Buenos Aires claims they are occupied Argentinian territory.

"The result will demonstrate in a clear, democratic and incontestable way how the people of the Falkland Islands wish to live their lives," the islands' government said in a statement.

"To that end, the Falkland Islands government has consulted widely to identify a credible, international and independent observer mission to observe the referendum in order to clearly demonstrate that it has been held freely and fairly."

The referendum question will read: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom?

"YES or NO".

The ballot paper will also be accompanied by a pre-amble.

"The current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom," it reads.

"The islands are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for matters including defence and foreign affairs.

"Under the Falkland Islands constitution the people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time.

"Given that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands.

"Should the majority of votes cast be against the current status, the Falkland Islands government will undertake necessary consultation and preparatory work in order to conduct a further referendum on alternative options."

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