Colombian govt and FARC scramble to save peace deal
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. –