Nevis voters choose to stay with St Kitts

NEVIS FAILED to become one of the world's smallest countries yesterday, but it did force the world to take its self-determination drive seriously, the Caribbean island's premier said. Nevis, a mountainous patch of green with 9,000 people, needed a 67 percent vote in Monday's referendum to secede from neighbouring St Kitts, population 32,000. It got 62 percent.

The outcome was a blow to Nevis Premier Vance Amory, who led an independence campaign based on islanders' resentment of their treatment by the St Kitts- based federal government. Secession failed in part "because change sometimes is so difficult to accept," Mr Amory said. But he added: "What is important is that 62 percent indicated support."

That wasn't lost on Denzil Douglas, prime minister of the embattled federation. Mr Douglas immediately offered to seek constitutional reforms that would grant Nevis more control over its own affairs. "We have had our difficulties. We have had our differences," Mr Douglas said. "I want the people of Nevis to give us the opportunity, to give us the chance, to work with them."

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