EspañolAfter a four-hour meeting, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his main rival Álvaro Uribe, a conservative senator and former president himself, announced on October 5 that they are willing to make changes to the FARC peace deal that was rejected in a referendum three days before.
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The meeting was also attended by other leaders of the camp who oppose the current deal with the rebel Marxist group: former presidential candidate Marta Lucía Ramírez, former inspector general Alejandro Ordoñez, as well as military officers and members of the government’s negotiation team.
Senator Uribe thanked President Santos’s invitation and said he introduced proposals to reform the FARC peace deal that was rejected by Colombians in Sunday’s referendum.
Additionally, the senator said the opposition is willing to continue with the peace process, but without violence. Crimes that he claimed are still being committed by FARC members, such as extortion, drug trafficking, and recruitment of children must stop, he urged.
Uribe also called on the United Nations and the international community to be patient and support this new phase of negotiations, ruling out the possibility that the new agreement’s legal status be elevated to that of an international or special treaty.
He insisted on “judicial relief” for military officers involved in the armed conflict and rejected opening up political participation for guerrilla members who have committed crimes against humanity.
Finally, he demanded recognition for all victims of FARC attacks and that justice be served though existing institutions, which must be strengthened.
For his part, President Santos said it was his duty to work for peace and that he would continue to do so, seeking to ensure both public order and national reconciliation.
Santos said the ceasefire with FARC, declared until October 31, could be prolonged depending on the progress of this new phase of negotiations.
He assured he had met with leaders of different groups who are against the deal, such as industry leaders and Christian ministers, to hear their concerns and work out a solution.
The president also referred to the meeting held hours earlier with former President Andrés Pastrana and thanked them for their constructive approach to improving the agreement.
As for the outcome of the meeting with Uribe, he announced the creation of a commission to work out changes to the deal. However, he will relay all proposed changes to the the FARC delegation in Havana.
Santos thanked United Nations and the international community for the continued support. “We are very close to achieving stable and durable peace with wider public support. If all sides are willing and contribute responsibly, with realism and serenity, we will succeed.”
Meetings between government officials and the opposition will continue this week with the goal of putting an end to over 50 years of armed conflict with FARC.