Santos, FARC coming to terms with new reality after ‘No’ wins in referendum

Bogota, Oct 3 (IANS) The President of Colombia has recognised the victory of the “No” side in the referendum on the peace agreement signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), saying this result would open a new political reality which could be an opportunity for the country.

Juan Manuel Santos, who had promoted the “Yes” campaign, ordered government negotiators to return to Havana on Monday to consult with the FARC leaders, EFE News reported.

Meanwhile, former Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said the opposition Democratic Centre party, which headed the campaign pushing for a “No” vote, will extend a hand to the President.

“Extending our hand to Santos,” the opposition leader told the media, adding that his party, headed by former President Alvaro Uribe, will seek to “re-conduct the process” with the FARC.

He also said that the Democratic Centre will take the triumph of its position in the referendum with “a lot of humility”.

He said that his party wants the peace process to come to “a good conclusion” so he offered to work with the government to achieve that end.

Colombian FARC top leader, Timoleon Jimenez, known as “Timochenko” said in Havana that the insurgent group maintained “its desire for peace” and repeated that they will “use only words as a weapon to build toward the future”.

“The FARC deeply regrets that the destructive power of those who sow hatred and rancor have influenced the opinion of the Colombian population,” Timochenko said in a first statement after the surprise victory for the “No” camp in the referendum.

“To the Colombian people who dream of peace, count on us, peace will triumph,” Timochenko said.

The FARC guerrillas plan to hold a meeting to “calmly analyse all the details” of the outcome.

The President stressed that the “definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities” between the government and FARC, which took effect on August 29, “is still in force, and will remain in force”.

According to the official result, with almost 100 per cent of the vote counted, 49.77 per cent chose “Yes” while 50.22 per cent voted against the deal.



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