World Bulletin / News Desk
Congress voted unanimously late Wednesday in favor of a new peace agreement with the FARC.
President Juan Manuel Santos assured the country that on Dec. 1 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would begin to move to designated areas.
“Tomorrow is D-day. What does this mean?” said Santos in a speech to members the Armed Forces. “This means that in five days FARC combatants will start moving to their zones of concentration,” to start disarming and reintegration into society.
Lawmakers voted 130-0 for the agreement but eight members of the Conservative Party and 19 members of the Democratic Center Party abstained after they declared they did not believe Congress had the legitimacy to make such a decision.
“We are not looking for a quick fix to this situation, we recognize the public and their majority vote,” the lawmakers wrote in a statement regarding the victory of the “No” campaign in a public referendum last month. “We must show the FARC and other armed groups how to resolve differences by democratic means,” it added.
After 13 hours of debate Tuesday, the vote on the peace agreement was put before members of the Senate, which voted 75-0 in favor of the deal. Leading the voices in opposition was former President Alvaro Uribe, now senator, whose Democratic Center Party abstained from voting in the Senate and Congress.
“The Democratic Center Party cannot vote for a proposition of referendum on this agreement which is aimed at creating a ‘fast track’ or abbreviated legislative procedure,” Uribe told reporters Wednesday.
In an impassioned speech to Congress before the vote Wednesday, Humberto de la Calle, the chief of the government’s negotiating team said “57 of the 60 changes to the peace agreement proposed by the ‘No’ campaign have been incorporated into the new document”.
Peace talks with the FARC began in November 2012 in Cuba and for more than four years addressed agrarian reform, political participation, illicit drugs, rights of the victims and how to end the conflict.
An agreement was signed Sept. 26 to great fanfare before an audience of international dignitaries but days later on Oct. 2, Colombians voted against the deal in a referendum that forced additional rounds of talks to rescue the accords.
A reworked peace deal was signed Nov. 24 between Santos and Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, alias Timochenko, the commander in chief of the FARC in a low-key event in Bogota.