Source: Press TV
Scotland's First Minister has addressed the Scottish parliament on independence from the United Kingdom, stressing he will give people a "straightforward" and "clear" choice in the referendum.
Alex Salmond launched the Scottish National Party (SNP) government's consultation on the vote with a statement at Holyrood, declaring the referendum on the country's independence was "the most important decision by the people of Scotland in 300 years.”
Stating that the vote will be held in autumn 2014, Salmond said the question was “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"
He told the MSPs that the vote should “meet the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety.” The SNP leader also said that the government would appoint the Electoral Commission to regulate the referendum.
Salmond also said eligibility to vote would be determined by residency, adding, "The people who live and work in Scotland are best placed to decide its future."
Yet he set out plans to extend the franchise to 16 year olds. Saying, "It is right that our young people should have the chance to play their part in decisions about their community and their country."
"If a 16-year-old in Scotland can register to join the Army, get married and pay taxes, surely he or she should be able to have a say in this country's constitutional future?”
First Minister also announced that independent Scotland would have the Queen as head of state, but would do away with the nuclear weapons and would not be forced to deploy soldiers abroad.
Discussing Scotlnad's right to have a seat at Europe's top table, Salmond said that there were only 50 independent states at the time United Nations was formed. “Today, that figure has risen to almost 200. Of the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004, a majority had become independent since 1990, and Scotland is bigger than six of them.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and leaders of main parties in Westminster, who fear staging the vote would secure the split of the UK, called on the SNP government to conduct a vote sooner rather than later.
However, Salmon argued that 2014 was the soonest that the vote “could be held in a way that meets the high standards which the people of this country have a right to expect.”