14 Nov, HAVANA- The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed on Saturday a new peace agreement after days of negotiations in Havana, a possible lasting deal to end over 50 years of armed conflicts in the country.
The joint statement read by the representatives of the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway, announced that both sides “reached a new and final peace agreement, with changes, precisions, and modifications provided by the different sectors of the Colombian society.”
Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator of the rebel group and his counterpart from the government, Humberto De la Calle, signed the document at a formal ceremony, chaired by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
Both sides expected that this new deal would become a “powerful instrument” for the democratization of the country and full respect for the rights of all its citizens, and bring a lasting peace to Colombia.
“This new agreement was also an opportunity to clarify doubts, resolve certain concerns but most of all to come together as one Colombia. Once more we prove to our country that despite the differences, through dialogue, it’s possible to reach common points and agendas,” said Calle.
The new pact seeks to overcome the impasse after the previous agreement discussed for four years in Havana was rejected by a slight margin in an Oct. 2 referendum in Colombia.
Calle noted that this new agreement paved the way to start the difficult implementation of a “general consensus” to build a stable and lasting peace in the South American country.
“We work with the certainty that there is no more time to lose. We are convinced that this document points to viable and possible ways to end the conflict in Colombia,” he said.
For his part, Marquez said that this new deal reaffirms the country’s “vocation for peace” and clarifies reasonable doubts and concerns raised by the people that rejected the previous accord, which was signed on Sept. 26 by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and top FARC commander Rodrigo Londono in Cartagena, Colombia.
“We have conceded in many of our initial positions and even accepting propositions beyond reasonable thoughts for an organization whose ideas and military uprising weren’t defeated,” said Marquez.
The rebel group said it is ready to become a political organization within the Colombian democracy if the peace agreement is fully implemented.
New changes to the previous deal were slightly mentioned by the sides but the overall agreement will be published on the Colombian government website and in the next few days printed out for the population.
Since Oct. 3, Santos’ representatives and the guerrilla discussed in Havana the proposals made by the supporters of the “NO” camp led by former President Alvaro Uribe.
The victory of the “NO” camp by a narrow margin forced Santos to meet with the critics of the initial agreement to reach consensus and move the peace process forward.
Last week, former Colombian Presidents Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) and Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), two of the main voices rejecting the signed accord, delivered President Santos a list of over 500 proposals for modifications.
The conflict in Colombia has left more than 260,000 people dead and displaced millions of others since 1964. (Xinhua)