BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — President Juan Manuel Santos told Colombians Friday that “everything is on the table” in efforts to revive a peace pact that voters narrowly defeated on Oct. 2 and said a revised accord could be reached “in a matter of days.”
The chief negotiator for the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Timoleon Jimenez, expressed hope Santos was right.
“Let’s hope the delay doesn’t become a boomerang,” he tweeted.
Santos said in a brief televised speech that government negotiators would return immediately from talks in Havana with leaders of the leftist rebel movement, known by its Spanish initials FARC, and meet Saturday with key political opponents of the initial deal.
The FARC and government negotiators wound up a week of renewed talks Friday by issuing a statement that said new proposals have been incorporated in the text of what would be a modified accord. They did not provide details and said talks would resume next Thursday.
“Everything is on the table,” Santos said. “It’s a question of good will and making decisions. This can be accomplished in a matter of days.”
Santos also said a cease-fire he extended until Dec. 31 after the razor-thin referendum defeat “is fragile and for that reason time is dear. The people have the right to demand a new accord now.”
Santos and the FARC signed a peace deal on Sept. 26 amid international fanfare to end a half-century-old conflict that has claimed more than 220,000 lives, mostly civilians, and has displaced more than 6 million.
But voters rejected it by 55,000 votes , with turnout at just 37 percent.
Former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the campaign for “No,” tweeted earlier Friday that Santos’ declarations to news media “show he wants touch-ups with one sector of the ‘No’ camp and is avoiding fundamental reforms.”
A right-wing hardliner backed by Colombia’s landowning rural elite, Uribe seriously weakened the FARC militarily with U.S. assistance as president from 2002-2010.
He has demanded stiffer penalties for rebels who committed war crimes and many of his supporters reject a political role for the FARC, a 7,000-strong peasant army that is Latin America’s last remaining major insurgency.
The rebels, who would be spared jail time under the accord, are insisting they won’t go back to the drawing board and throw out more than four years of arduous negotiations with the government.
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