• Puerto Ricans back full US statehood but vote marred by low turnout

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    SAN JUAN: Puerto Ricans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to become a US state in a non-binding referendum—but the result was marred by an extremely low turnout after opposition parties called for a boycott of the poll. With virtually all results in, 97.2 percent backed statehood, 1.5 percent supported independence and 1.3 percent opted for no change, but just 23 percent of the 2.2 million-strong electorate cast a ballot. Despite the low turnout, Governor Ricardo Rossello vowed to push for the territory to become the 51st US state after casting his vote for statehood. An unincorporated US territory under American control since 1898, Puerto Rico lacks sovereign powers—an urgent problem as it grapples with public debt of $73 billion and its economy stumbles.The US Congress would need to approve any upgrade to statehood.

    AFP

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