The leader of Colombia's right-wing "No" forces formally rejected the latest peace deal and called for a new referendum
Just days before a new peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group is expected to be signed on Thursday, the ex-president and leader of the right-wing “No” forces, Alvaro Uribe, said in a statement Wednesday that there were “serious issues” with the new plan.
Uribe went on to call for yet another national referendum on the newest agreement saying “it is necessary to resort to a national referendum, whether on the whole agreement or at least on those sensitive issues on which there is no agreement.”
In a speech on Wednesday Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected calls for a new plebiscite saying “after listening to all the proposals and alternatives, and in agreement with the FARC, it’s clear that the most convenient and legitimate path to approve this new agreement is through the Congress of the Republic.”
"This new accord possibly won't satisfy everybody, but that's what happens in peace accords. There are always critical voices; it is understandable and respectable," continued Santos, warning another plebiscite could divide the nation and put in danger the bilateral cease-fire.
Santos’ concerns about the status of the cease-fire were echoed by FARC leaders who have condemned the recent spike in violence against social movement leaders.
“The situation is very dramatic and worrying,” wrote the FARC in a statement issued Monday. “More than 200 deaths so far this year, with a total blanket of impunity. A new genocide is in motion against social and campesino leaders.”
FARC leader Rodrigo Granda also rejected earlier attempts by Uribe to delay Thursday’s signing saying the current cease-fire is “very fragile”.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the Colombian government and FARC leaders said, "The consolidation of peace requires that we advance with firm steps towards the implementation of the agreements, which will allow us to overcome so many years of conflict in Colombia."
The peace plan looks to end a brutal 52-year civil war which has victimized an estimated 8 million people and left some 260,000 dead and more than 60,000 disappeared.