Colombian government, FARC guerrillas agree to second peace deal


HAVANA, Nov. 13 (UPI) — Leaders from the Colombian government and FARC guerilla group have reached their second peace agreement this year, though there is some doubt as to whether Colombians or their Congress will decide on approval the new deal.

The new agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is largely similar to the previous deal but strips away guaranteed seats in the national Congress, removes magistrates from special peace tribunals and requires the group to explain its role in the international drug trade.

The two sides negotiated a deal in June to end the five-decade war between the guerilla group and the government, but was voted down in a national referendum at least partially because of an effort by some, former President Alvaro Uribe among them, to demand a stronger deal. At the time, FARC and the government agreed to extend a ceasefire to the end of December, with the expectation a new deal would be done long before them.

“We have reached a new final accord to end the armed conflict that integrates changes, precisions and proposals suggested by the most diverse sectors of society,” the two sides announced in a statement.

The biggest differences between the first deal in June and this new one come to negotiators extracting more from FARC, as many of those who voted against the deal said they desired. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he believed opponents of the deal seek to have it torpedoed totally, but he has said he refuses to let it die and it remains a central goal of his term as president.

Under the new deal, FARC will declare and hand over all of its assets, which will be used for reparations to the groups victims during the last 50 years. The new agreement still does not require jail time for members of the guerilla group who committed crimes while serving it, but allows for punishment doled out by a special tribunal set up in the new agreement.

Even with the new agreement, there are rumblings of continued dissatisfaction and complaints about even discussing the passage of the peace deal by the Congress rather than sending out for another voter referendum.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned that it would be likely all groups would not be totally satisfied with any final deal, but that they must keep working toward a solution to the decades of bloodshed in Colombia linked to the conflict.

“After 52 years of war, no peace agreement can satisfy everyone in every detail,” Kerry said. “But this agreement constitutes an important step forward on Colombia’s path to a just and durable peace. The United States, in coordination with the Government of Colombia, will continue to support full implementation of the final peace agreement.”

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