Colombia's Santos, FARC scramble to revive peace after shock vote

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06 October, 2016

Farc leader Timochenko said the rebel group "profoundly lamented that the destructive power of those who sow hatred and rancour has influenced Colombian public opinion".

President Juan Manuel Santos plans to meet Monday with all political parties and has ordered his negotiators to return to Havana, Cuba, where four years of peace talks had taken place.

Kirby didn't indicate what hard decisions were ahead, but response was expected considering the Obama administration's outspoken support of Santos and the peace deal.

President Juan Manuel Santos admitted defeat, but pledged: "I will not give in, and I will continue to seek peace to the last day of my term". "I count on them to press ahead until they achieve secure and lasting peace".

It may be impossible to produce a viable 2.0 version of the agreement unless the Santos government can get Uribe and his supporters behind it. Uribe's party issued a statement saying it remained willing to discuss the formation of a "national pact".

One thing presumably won't be happening: the FARC rebels won't be handing over their weapons to the United Nations, as they had agreed to do once the deal was final.

Some reports suggest there might be another pivotal player in any attempts to revive the deal: Alvaro Uribe, the powerful former president who spearheaded a campaign against the peace deal. In the most recent of many ceremonies celebrating the deal, world leaders gathered in Cartagena on September 26th for a lavish signing ceremony to celebrate the deal.

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Following the result, which some commentators compared with Britain's shock "Brexit" vote to leave the European Union, peace researchers dropped Colombia from a list of favourites for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Yesterday's referendum result is a bad blow to peace prospects in Colombia", said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) who had also been betting on the Colombians.

The distressed voters challenged the government's attempt to put an end to 52 years of conflict, rejecting the deal, contrariwise the survey expectations.

Latin America's longest conflict has killed 220,000 people, displaced millions and brought atrocities on all sides.

The referendum, which saw a turnout of less than 40%, resulted in a victory for the "No" camp by a margin of just over 40 000 votes.

According to the agreement, FARC would have been represented in the Colombian legislature with a minimum of five seats, and former soldiers would be paid for job training and incentivized to start small businesses.

The prospect of light sentences with no jail time and the FARC's relaunch as a political party did not sit well with Colombians who associate the group with civilian massacres, hostage seizures and sowing terror in the countryside.


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