- Title: Opposition leader Uribe to meet with Santos in bid to salvage peace deal
- Date: 5th October 2016
- Summary: UNIDENTIFIED MOUNTAIN AREA, COLOMBIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FARC REBELS MARCHING
- Embargoed: 20th October 2016 03:14
- Keywords: peace deal Colombia FARC President Juan Manuel Santos opposition leader Alvaro Uribe
- Location: BOGOTA, UNIDENTIFIED MOUNTAIN AREA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, UNIDENTIFIED MOUNTAIN AREA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00752LE0QV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Colombia's opposition leader and former president and current senator, Alvaro Uribe, told media on Tuesday (October 04) that he will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos to propose changes to the government's peace deal with FARC rebels that was voted down.
In a vote that confounded opinion polls and was a disaster for President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombians narrowly rebuffed the pact on Sunday (October 02) as too lenient on the rebels.
Uribe was one of the chief critics of the deal and said the onus is now on the Colombian government to take the concerns of the people to the FARC for a new peace deal.
"Our complaint is not that there are sectors left on the outside. Our complaint was that they agreed to something that goes against Colombian democracy. What is first required here is that the national government to say clearly that there is willingness to correct it (the peace deal). If there is no willingness, what are we doing? It's simply a trip (to Havana). A photo opportunity. What is needed in this difficult moment in the lives of Colombians is that the government has the willingness to correct this. I have at least asked for an appointment with the President of the Republic," he said.
Uribe made his remarks during a televised interview with the director of Colombian network RCN, Claudia Gurisatti.
The Santos government has spearheaded peace talks with the FARC rebels in Cuba.
Uribe has been vocal in his criticism of provisions in the peace deal that would have included guaranteed congressional seats for the FARC and immunity from traditional jail sentences for leaders.
A re-negotiation seems to depend on whether the FARC would accept tougher conditions, maybe combined with a softening of Uribe's demands.
The opposition leader said changes to the peace deal should not rest on the shoulders of the FARC alone.
"This does not depend on if the FARC want to change (the deal). We need to ask the president of the republic to make these changes, that there be a willingness to make these changes. What would they be? The government must have the answers," he said.
After years of refusing to meet negotiators, Uribe has now said he is willing to seek a joint solution.
"I am going to make this proposal and I am willing to make it to the government. If the government says that it is not just the FARC that needs security guarantees to survive without drug trafficking, we would be in agreement, that there are all these guerrillas gathered under United Nations monitoring, they would be allowed to be given resources so that they can support themselves without engaging in drug trafficking, without committing a crime, contributing to the process while Colombian democracy, liberty are not put at risk. There must be generosity with those measured for all, messages of peace without total impunity," he added.
President Santos has struck a diplomatic tone in bringing together the opposing political sides to find common ground for peace.
According to the government, Santos and Uribe will meet on Wednesday (October 05).
"I welcome the fact that tomorrow I will meet with former president Andres Pastrana and former president Alvaro Uribe to try and find common denominators, what their concerns are, what their observations are, so that we can take these into dialogue for a great national accord which will allow us to continue the search for peace," said Santos.
Santos late on Tuesday (October 04) decreed that a government ceasefire put in place in August would be extended until the end of the month in a bid to allow time to salvage the deal. The original ceasefire was nullified when the peace accord was rejected in the plebiscite. He did not say if the ceasefire would be extended further.
"The bilateral and indefinite ceasefire has been decreed until October 31. I hope that we can advance in the agreements, in dialogue so we can formalise the changes and the agreements which will allow us to move forward with a solution to this conflict," declared Santos.
Lead negotiators Humberto de la Calle and Sergio Jaramillo were back at a Havana convention centre meeting counterparts from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to see what the rebels are willing to do, the government said.
In a bid to find a path to peace, three representatives from Uribe's right-wing Democratic Centre party are to pore over details with three from the government. In what may turn into a dual negotiation process, those meetings are to commence once de la Calle returns from Cuba.
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