- Title: Santos tries to rescue peace bid after referendum loss
- Date: 4th October 2016
- Summary: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (OCTOBER 2, 2016) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** SANTOS SHAKING HANDS OF ELECTORAL WORKERS POLICEMAN WATCHING ELECTORAL WORKER HANDING SANTOS HIS BALLOT PAPER SANTOS TAKING VOTING BALLOT INTO BOX SANTOS COMPLETING BALLOT SANTOS POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS PLACING HIS BALLOT PAPER IN BOX CLOSE-UP OF SANTOS DROPPING BALLOT PAPER IN BOX SANTOS STEPPING ASIDE
- Embargoed: 19th October 2016 02:18
- Keywords: Alvaro Uribe Juan Manuel Santos referendum plebiscite FARC
- Location: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA00152GBBRB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Bogota pledged to rescue the peace process Monday (October 4) as Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, began working in concert with the opposition after voters rejected the hard-negotiated deal as too lenient on the rebels in a shock referendum result that plunged the nation into uncertainty.
Any renegotiated peace accord now seems to depend on whether the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) could accept tougher sanctions against them. The United Nations applauded the maintenance of a ceasefire in Colombia despite the vote and said its special envoy, Jean Arnault, would also travel to Cuba to help the process.
Members of the opposition, headed by powerful former president Alvaro Uribe, will meet with the government to try and salvage the accord, Santos said on Monday in a televised address.
Markets reacted negatively to the developments.
"No" voters, who narrowly won Sunday's plebiscite, want assurances the rebels will hand in cash from drugs, spend time in jail, and earn their political future at the ballot box rather than get guaranteed, unelected seats in Congress.
Both President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londono, the top FARC commander better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, put a brave face on the referendum setback after four years of negotiations in Havana between their teams.
They vowed to maintain a ceasefire and keep working together, even though that could be another lengthy and complicated process.
Santos addressed the nation: "With the will for peace from all parties, I am sure, sure, that we will be able to soon arrive at satisfactory solutions for everyone. As such, the country will come out of this ahead, and the process will be strengthened. For our part, there exists the whole will, and the determination to make it so. We will have to act quickly and impose time limits. Well, the uncertainty and the lack of clarity over what follows puts in risk everything has been built to date," he said.
In a statement, the FARC said it would "remain faithful" to the accord signed last week with the government and called on Colombians to mobilize peacefully to support terms of the existing agreement.
Latin America's longest conflict has killed 220,000 people, displaced millions and brought atrocities on all sides.
International exhortations for Colombia to stay on the path to peace have flooded in.
The deal was rejected by a razor-thin margin of less than half a percentage point, just 54,000 votes.
Turnout for the vote was a paltry 37 percent, reflecting some apathy from "Yes" supporters who had assumed an easy win, in addition to bad weather that deterred voters.
In his televised statement, Santos backed his team to move the process forward. "I have designated doctor, Humberto de la Calle, as chief negotiator, foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin and defence minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, so that, as soon as possible, the talks begin that will allow us address all the necessary issues to have an agreement and culminate in the dream all Colombia has to end the war with the FARC," he said.
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 favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Colombian markets dipped in Monday's trading on disappointment at the "no" vote that may complicate government efforts to keep its agency ratings and pass the tax reforms to compensate for lost oil income.
The result will also dent Santos' hopes for a boom in foreign investment in mining, oil and agriculture in Latin America's fourth-largest economy.
The FARC, which began as a peasant revolt in 1964, would have been able to compete in the 2018 presidential and legislative elections and have 10 unelected congressional seats guaranteed through 2026.
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