BUENOS AIRES, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Britain has been deliberately misleading the public to gain an advantage in its territorial dispute with Argentina over the Malvinas Islands, known as the Falklands to the British, an Argentine legal expert said Sunday.
Armando Abruzza, professor of international law at Argentina's National University of Mar del Plata, said Britain and "colonial" authorities have "repeatedly and systematically misled (the public) by providing false or inaccurate information" on the dispute.
Residents of the Malvinas, just off the southern coast of Argentina, are casting their ballots Sunday and Monday on whether to remain as Britain's overseas territory.
London is exploiting the principle of self-determination to maintain its hold over the islands, but the principle does not apply to the case of the Malvinas and a referendum is simply invalid, said the expert.
That is because most of the islands' population is not indigenous but "transplanted British citizens," and therefore cannot be asked to vote on whether they want independence from colonial rule, added Abruzza.
Abruzza traced the dispute to 1833, when British troops first seized the islands and drove Argentineans away by force. Britain had since prevented Argentineans from returning and registering as legal residents of the islands.
Argentina never accepted the "usurpation," and relevant UN resolutions did not mention "the wishes of the people of the Malvinas," which dismisses the right to self-determination for the island inhabitants, he said.
Moreover, a 1985 British proposal to change the wording of UN General Assembly Resolution 2065 "to include the principle of people's right to self-determination was expressly rejected by the United Nations," Abruzza said.
Meanwhile, UN Resolution 1514 adopted in 1960 on decolonization "both consecrates the principle of self-determination and advises respect for nations' territorial integrity, which is the case with Argentina in the Malvinas," said Abruzza.
With the referendum and its quite predictable result, Britain attempts to consolidate its rule over the Malvinas and its surrounding waters, protecting its interests in territory, navigation, trade routes, communication, air space and positioning in the Antarctic, he said.
The referendum, largely a publicity stunt, is a tool by Britain to "drum up international support" before it seeks to secure more strategic interests in the region, including exploiting the natural resources of the Atlantic and the Antarctic, said Abruzza.
Argentina must maintain "an active and firm stance, with an eye on consolidating the support of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia," to counteract Britain's influence, he said.
Federico Martin Gomez, a researcher who specializes in the Malvinas issue at the same university, also said the referendum lacks legal grounds and is purely a political publicity move.
Malvinas islanders are only looking to bolster their ties with Britain by wielding their "alleged right to decide their own future," he told Xinhua.
The vote aims to preserve Britain's military presence in the South Atlantic, he said.
The expert said the vote is unlikely to see an end to the long-running dispute between the two countries, as "Argentina will continue to denounce Britain's stance in the south Atlantic and to demand Britain comply with the UN resolutions."