UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: November 2, 300 AP.

President gives autonomy to I'ana archipelago

Two-and-a-half months after Utania forcefully occupied the I'ana archipelago to the south of the country to prevent it falling into the hands of Armatirion, President Okarvits has fulfilled the wishes of his predecessor and given the islands autonomy under the Utanian Republic!

In mid-August this year, thousands of Utanian troops and half the nation's fleet raced to the I'ana archipelago to prevent occupation by "foreign nations", storming ashore more soldiers than the islands had permanent inhabitants. The off-hand thought by the Director of the UNVCOCN mission to Utania, Gordon Davidz, that the islands should be gifted to the Armatirion-administered Ptica island sanctuary incensed Utania's then President Hope, and many Utanians, that he had troops occupy the islands by force. No foreign military presence was found, no shots were fired, and no casualties experienced.

However, the military action received worldwide attention and alarm, fearing that Utania was "yet another militarist nation". President Hope then announced his plans to make the island semi-autonomous, defusing much of the criticism from within and outside Utania.

President Hope had, at the time, promised to prevent large-scale mining efforts on the islands, concern over which by environmentalists had prompted the UNVCOCN to consider handing the islands to Ptica park. To Utania, the islands, which link Ptica Island and mainland Utania, represent a serious threat to Utanian defences if occupied by anyone other than Utania.

President Okarvits put forward the bill to give autonomy to the 1500 inhabitants to the Parliament this morning, and, by 3pm, it had been strongly passed by the Parliament: 97-41, with all 77 government MP's, the Progressive Party and Democratic Party supporting the bill. The Liberal Nationalists, Conservatives and Cruis-Democrats objected to the strength of the anti-military base clauses, which provide for military bases no greater than currently exist on the islands.

Under the Bill, the islands have semi-autonomy, their own local administration of taxes, infrastructure and services. The 1500 inhabitants will receive government aid in exchange for the freedom to operate small military bases on two of the islands: I'ana and Yoma. The islands remain under the protection and some federal laws of Utania.

The residents of the I'ana archipelago are the last known link to the Ptican people, being themselves descendants of part-Utani, part-Ptican peoples. Utania (or Guwimith) has ruled the islands for over one thousand years.

(For further information, refer to the Utanian Government web site, then look under the topic news, for news items around August 18th.)

©UPA, 300 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2000. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)