After more than 52 years of war and six weeks since the original deal was rejected in a referendum, the government of Colombia and the FARC rebels have agreed on a revised peace deal in which proposals from the opposition have been incorporated.
The government has not mentioned holding a second plebiscite to approve the deal yet, although some opposition figures have already demanded one. Copies of the new peace agreement will be made public next Sunday.
The new deal will not change a controversial part which gives the FARC 10 congressional seats through 2026 or stop rebel leaders from being elected to political posts. Nevertheless, the peace agreement will not be integrated into Colombia’s constitution and the rebel group will be required to present a complete record of its capital proprieties, which will be destined for compensation of victims. Moreover, it specifies that the FARC must turn in exhaustive information about its involvement in the drug trade.
All in all, former president Alvaro Uribe, who led opposition to the previous peace deal, is not satisfied with the modified deal.
The historical peace deal that the President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s largest rebel group’s leader Rodrigo Londoño “Timochenko” had signed days before has been defeated by Colombians in a referendum yesterday, throwing the country into sudden confusion about its future.
With counting concluded from 98.98% of polling stations, the “no” vote won by 50.2% to 49.8%, a difference of fewer than 54,000 votes. The verdict on the peace deal between the government and the FARC, achieved after four years of intense negotiations, means it cannot be now implemented.
After publishing the results, Santos said he would send his negotiators back to Havana to meet with FARC leaders today, adding that he would continue seeking peace until the last of his presidency. Moreover, he will also meet with all political parties in order to find a way to achieve the final peace process.
The FARC leader, on the other hand, claimed that the insurgent group would maintain its desire for peace, reiterating its disposition to “use only words as weapon to build toward the future”.
Although the bilateral ceasefire that has been in place since 29 August will continue, there is a high uncertainty on how the peace process will proceed and what steps need to be taken from now on in order to maintain social and political stability in the country.
After four years of tough negotiations in Havana, today the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Marxist rebel leader Timochenko are signing a peace deal which will put an end to a half-century war that has killed a quarter of a million people, blocked the economic system and made Colombia a highly unstable country.
More than 2,500 foreign and local dignitaries are attending the ceremony in Cartagena, where these two leaders will shake hands for the first time in Colombia. The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, or the US secretary of state, John Kerry are some of the personalities who will be present at the historical peace treaty which will turn the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group into a legal political party.
The agreement must be ratified by a plebiscite on 2nd October, but polls indicate that it will pass easily since there is widespread relief in Colombian society at an end to the kidnappings and hostilities of the last decades. Moreover, the revolutionary group will hand over weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.
Colombians and the rest of Latin American countries are optimistic, as peace will bring more positive results than problems. They hope to reduce security costs and open new areas for mining and oil companies, in order to restore social and political stability in the country.