- Title: Colombians ramp up opposing campaigns for plebiscite on peace agreement
- Date: 28th September 2016
- Summary: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (SEPTEMBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF GATHERING IN BOLIVAR PLAZA OF PEOPLE CAMPAIGNING FOR THE ´SI´ VOTE SIGNS READING (IN SPANISH): "VOTE YES, LET´S STOP THIS WAR NOW" ´YES´ SUPPORTERS GATHERING WITH SIGNS AND BALLOONS A CHILD ON HIS FATHER´S SHOULDERS HOLDING A SIGN READING (IN SPANISH): "YES" PEOPLE IN CARNIVAL DRESS WALKING THROUGH CROWD OF YES SUPPORTERS AND SIGNS ON STILTS A SIGN READING (IN SPANISH): "THE WORD IS YES FOR PEACE"
- Embargoed: 13th October 2016 21:13
- Keywords: Colombia peace plebiscite Juan Manuel Santos Alvaro Uribe
- Location: BOGOTA, CARTAGENA AND BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA
- City: BOGOTA, CARTAGENA AND BARANQUILLA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00151HDTMR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As Colombia prepares for a plebiscite on the peace agreement signed on Monday (September 26) between the government and Marxist rebels, both ´yes´ and ´no´ campaigners ramp up the volume.
One day after signing the agreement with commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos turned his attentions to campaigning for a ´yes´ vote in the October 2 plebiscite.
"This is why it is so important that people turn out on Sunday to vote ´yes´. I want to tell you what this means. Above all, it means that each of your votes is the same as mine, it could change the history of this country, it could end the FARC, when you vote ´yes´ in the plebiscite the FARC disappear as an armed group," Santos told a crowd in Baranquilla in the north of the country.
Santos´s plea faces tough opposition, however, from a ´no´ movement led by influential former president Alvaro Uribe, who marched with some hundred protesters in Cartagena on the day of the signing.
"We - the ´no´ voters - say in solidarity to those for ´yes´ that we too want peace. Our concern is not with the ´yes´, but with the fear of seeing in our constitution a weakening of democracy in the face of terrorism," Uribe orated to the crowds.
The most recent survey, conducted by polling firm Ipsos on behalf of local media RCN Radio, RCN Television, La FM radio and Semana magazine, showed 66 percent of those voting would approve the deal, while 34 percent would vote against it.
Many, however, are against the amnesty agreed for rebel fighters and reduced penalties in exchange for community service and cooperation with demining efforts, for example.
The other point of contention for the ´no´ movement is the guarantee of five seats in the lower house of congress and five in the senate which will also be awarded to the political party to transition out of the FARC as an incentive for disarmament.
According to political analyst, Jorge Restrepo, the ´no´ movement is strengthened by the pain suffered throughout the 52-year conflict.
"The ´no´ movement still draws a lot of interest, for one reason, because here in Colombia, we have come out of this internal armed conflict harmed, profoundly harmed, and the necessity for vengeance, the desire for revindication and restitution is very strong, and that is why people want revenge through the application of penalties, a strong punishment for the FARC for what they did," said Restrepo.
On the other side of the coin, peace advisor Alvaro Leyva, who mediated throughout the peace talks in Havana, said he was confident in the potential for a ´yes´ vote and for change.
"In the same way no one backed this, everyone said it was barbarous, but now I think about 80 percent of us will be for ´yes´. It is history. The history of the universe goes on being written everyday," said Leyva.
Polls open at 8 a.m. (1300 G.M.T.) on Sunday (October 2). To make the vote's result binding, the winning side would need a majority of votes cast and support totalling at least 13 percent of the country's 33 million eligible voters.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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