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Friday 18 April 2014

Counting begins in Falklands vote

Residents, some carrying British flags, parade during a rally in support of UK control over the islands in Port Stanley (AP)

Counting is to begin in a referendum over whether the Falkland Islands should remain British.

Islanders started voting on Sunday in the poll that is being staged in response to increasing demands from Argentina, which calls the territory Las Malvinas, for sovereignty negotiations.

The tiny community is expected overwhelmingly to vote in favour of retaining its status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and the results are due to be announced in the early hours of Tuesday.

Outside observers have been monitoring the referendum in order to prove it is free and fair but the result is unlikely to appease Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is desperate to use the issue to improve her ailing domestic popularity.

In January, she wrote an open letter to David Cameron, urging the Prime Minister to abide by a 1960 UN resolution calling on members to "end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations".

Falkland Islands UK Representative Sukey Cameron suggested the territory could become independent in the future.

"That may well happen in 50, 70, 100 years' time but now we are very happy with our relationship as it stands with the UK," she told Sky News.

She added: "There are some people on the island who may vote 'no' but voting 'no' isn't necessarily voting yes to Argentina."

Press Association

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