The Colombian government announced that it was going to sign a new peace deal with the FARC rebels this Thursday. The effort to bring lasting peace and stability to the Latin American country continues despite a recent setback. The two sides had already been through a negotiation process that resulted in a peace accord. It had been signed in an emotional ceremony that symbolized hope for a better future for Colombia. But when the people of Colombia voted in a referendum, the peace accord was rejected. The referendum that took place last month showed that the country was perhaps not ready to move on from so much tragedy.
New Peace Deal to Bypass a Popular Vote
The fight between the government of Colombia and the FARC rebels has been going on for over 50 years. The armed conflict has cost 260,000 people their lives so far. The toll that it took on the country was significant. And the result of the referendum shows that not everybody in Colombia is ready to forgive and forget.
So, the government has decided to bypass a vote on the issue this time around. The new peace deal is a revised version of the previous agreement. But it is not going to go through another referendum, as there are chances that it would fail again. Instead, it is going to be submitted to Congress for approval.
The country is looking for peace and a way to put the past behind it. But there isn’t a political consensus about the peace deal. Opposition groups say that it lets the FARC rebels get away with too much. They argue that it does not do enough to punish the rebels for the human rights abuses of the past.
The President of Colombia Urges Reconciliation
The President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos is strongly in favor of the peace accord. He has thrown all of his political might behind the effort to make the deal a reality. Juan Manuel Santos recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for the work that he did during the peace negotiations with the FARC rebels. But what he hasn’t achieved is a way forward for the two sides of a painful, decades-long conflict.
In a televised address this Tuesday, he urged the nation to look forward and once more advised reconciliation.
“We have the unique opportunity to close this painful chapter in our history that has bereaved and afflicted millions of Colombians for half a century,”
said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
However, the political opposition is still not moved by the president’s appeal. Led by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, government opponents say that the peace deal is too favorable to the FARC rebels. Official negotiators from the government and representatives of the FARC rebels worked for the past month on the agreement. Overall, they made more than 50 changes to the peace accord. The hope is that the new version will be acceptable to conservatives in Colombia who have a very negative opinion about FARC.
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