Colombian government, FARC to sign peace deal despite opposition objections

BOGOTA, Nov. 23 (UPI) — Colombian and FARC leaders plan to sign a new peace deal Thursday, despite objections from some in Colombia that the latest version of the deal is still too lenient with the militant rebel group.

The new deal, which includes more than 50 changes to the one voters rejected on Oct. 2, will be sent to Colombia’s Congress, rather than back to voters, where Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expects it to be adopted.

“We have the unique opportunity to close this painful chapter in our history that has bereaved and afflicted millions of Colombians for half a century,” Santos said in an address to the country, referring to the more than 50-year-long civil war that has claimed more than 220,000 lives.

After Colombian voters surprisingly voted “no” on a peace deal in a referendum vote on Oct. 2, Santos went back to work with FARC attempting to incorporate requests from former President Alvaro Uribe, who opposes the deal.

Uribe, who the militant guerilla rebel group refused to meet with on Monday about the peace deal, already was critical of the version agreed to by Santos almost immediately.

The former president read a statement from the “No” movement, suggesting opposition concerns were not considered and any changes to the deal were simply cosmetic.

“We recognize those points in which there have been advancements and those issues that could have some adjustments in Congress,” the statement said. “However, without reforms in the listed issues, the government and FARC agreement is merely a retouch of the agreement rejected by citizens.”

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