MS Risk Blog

Colombian Government and FARC to Sign New Peace Deal

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President Juan Manuel Santos disclosed on 22 November that a new peace accord between the Colombian government and Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels will be signed on Thursday 24 November, effectively bringing a formal end to the 52-year civil war ever closer.

The revised document will be signed in Bogota between FARC leader Rodrigo Londono and President Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his efforts to end the conflict with the insurgent group.   During a televised address on Tuesday, President Santos stated, “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.

Over the last four years, the Colombian government and the FARC have been in talks in Havana, Cuba in a bid to agree on a peace deal to end a conflict that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions in the Andean country. In a bid to build support, after the original draft was rejected in a 2 October referendum amidst objections that it was too favourable to the rebels, the government published the revised version last week. The expanded and highly technical 310-page document appears to make only small modifications to the original text, such as clarifying private property rights and detailing more fully how th rebels would be confined in rural areas for crimes committed during the war.

President Santos and London had signed the original deal two months ago in a ceremony before world leaders and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This time however it has been decided that the revised accord will be ratified in Congress instead of holding an other referendum – a move that will likely anger members of the opposition, particularly former President Alvaro Uribe who spearheaded the push to reject the original accord. The former Colombian leader wants deeper changes to the new version and he has already criticized it as just a slight altered version of the original. Furthermore, he wants rebel leaders to be banned from holding public office and for them to be jailed for crimes. In his televised address, President Santos stated that “this new accord possibly wont satisfy everybody, but that’s what happens in peace accords. There are always critical voices; it is understandable and respectable,” warning that another plebiscite could divide the nation and put in danger the bilateral ceasefire.

The FARC, which began as a rebellion fighting rural poverty, has battled a dozen governments as well as right-wing paramilitary groups. An end to the war with the FARC is however unlikely to end violence in the country as the lucrative cocaine business has given rise to dangerous criminal gangs and traffickers that operate throughout the country.

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