2nd Time’s a Charm: Colombia Signs New Peace Deal

Telesur | 24 November, 2016

Colombia

Colombia’s President Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez shake hands after signing a peace accord in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 24, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Colombians hope this second deal will bring definitive peace after more than five decades of bloody armed conflict.

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed, for the second time, a peace agreement Thursday morning, to end the 52-year armed conflict in the country.

President Juan Manuel Santos and leader of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, signed the final text at 11:30 a.m., local time at the Colon Theater in the capital city of Bogota, in a simple ceremony with the presence of local legislators and human rights activists. Only 800 people attended the signing, due to security measures.

“There will be no more violence between Colombians for political reasons. This simple fact should inspire us to work to make our homeland, a much better country. We believe that for the good of the country, words should be the only weapon that Colombians should be allowed to use,” said Timochenko.

“Today Colombia puts down its weapons,” he added.

Timochenko said that this signing was not a way to put down ideological and political differences, but to end the war and begin working together towards achieving peace.

“To my enemies, I give them an olive branch,” he added.

President Santos said the cost of the conflict is too high and too painful, especially for the families of the disappeared and the injured, adding that this new, better peace deal is definitive.

Santos asked Colombians to put peace before “political interests,” a direct reference to the right-wing opposition that has campaigned against the talks, the peace agreement and its implementation.

The president said this was the first step towards the political participation of FARC members, saying that they will have all the guarantees to present their projects, which in turn will be voted on by the Colombian people.

Santos said that at the end of April, all of the FARC’s weapons will be handed over to the United Nations.

Thousands gathered at the main plaza in Bogota, Plaza Bolivar, to celebrate the second agreement between the government and the guerrilla group.

Ernesto Samper, secretary general of the Unions of South American Nations said that with the new signing “no one will stop peace in Colombia.”

On Sept. 26, Santos and Timochenko, signed the first agreement in Cartagena, accompanied by 13 heads of states and members of international organizations, as well as others guests and citizens that joined in the historic event. About 2,500 people were invited on that occasion.

That first peace accord was rejected by half a percentage point in a plebiscite on Oct. 2 and had a record low voter participation. After further negotiations in Havana, Cuba a second agreement was reached on Nov. 12.

Now a delegation will take the peace accord to the congressional building to hand over the agreement to the legislators for debate and a final vote. If passed by Congress, it will be included in the Colombian Constitution.

Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo presented the agreement to the President of the Senate Mauricio Lizcano, who announced the debate will begin next Tuesday and would only take a few days.

“We will not let Colombians down. We will approve the agreement with transparency and with guarantees for the opposition,” said Lizcano.

The majority of political parties in the country support this new agreement and Santos is confident it will pass in the legislative branch. Right-wing party Centro Democratico, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, opposed the signing of the new agreement even though the negotiators included several points raised by the “No” campaign.

Uribe has been a strong opponent of the peace talks and the following peace agreement, by campaigning under the false accusations that the text included complete amnesty for guerrilla members who committed crimes, and alleging that there would not be reparations for victims of the armed conflict.

SOURCE: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/2nd-Times-a-Charm-Colombia-Signs-New-Peace-Deal-20161123-0059.html

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