Colom­bian govt and FARC scram­ble to save peace deal

The Myanmar Times - - World -

COLOM­BIAN Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos opened a new na­tional di­a­logue to seek peace with FARC rebels as both sides scram­bled to re­vive a peace deal to end the long con­flict.

In a tele­vised ad­dress a day af­ter vot­ers re­jected the agree­ment in a ref­er­en­dum, Mr San­tos said he had asked the gov­ern­ment’s chief ne­go­tia­tor Hum­berto de la Calle to “be­gin dis­cus­sions as soon as pos­si­ble ad­dress­ing all the nec­es­sary is­sues to have an agree­ment and re­alise the dream of ev­ery Colom­bian to end the war with the FARC”.

Mr De la Calle had ear­lier of­fered his res­ig­na­tion, say­ing he did not want to be “an ob­sta­cle to what comes next”.

The an­nounce­ment on Oc­to­ber 3 came af­ter Mr San­tos – who has staked his legacy on end­ing the 52-year-old con­flict – called an emer­gency meet­ing with lead­ers of the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties to try to chart a way for­ward af­ter the shock ref­er­en­dum de­feat on Oc­to­ber 2.

As he ar­rived, a vis­i­bly crest­fallen Mr San­tos said the meet­ing would seek “com­mon ground and unity”.

“That’s more im­por­tant now than ever,” he said.

The leader of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia (FARC), Ro­drigo Lon­dono, said in a video from Ha­vana – where the peace talks were held – that the Marx­ist guer­ril­las, like the gov­ern­ment, re­mained com­mit­ted to an on­go­ing cease­fire.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon, who had of­fered a UN team to over­see the dis­ar­ma­ment process, said he had “ur­gently” sent his Colom­bia en­voy to Ha­vana, where the four-year talks have been held, for new con­sul­ta­tions.

The ac­cord called for the FARC’s 5765 rebels to dis­arm and the group to be­come a po­lit­i­cal party with guar­an­teed seats in Congress.

That did not sit well with Colom­bians who re­mem­ber the FARC for mas­sacring civil­ians, seiz­ing hostages and sow­ing ter­ror in a multi-sided con­flict that has seen atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted all around. –

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