Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia's President Santos keeps up push for Farc peace deal

This file photo taken on June 22, 2016 shows a graffiti with a sentence that reads "Peace for the people" in Cali, Colombia, on June 22, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Juan Manuel Santos says he will negotiate a peace deal Colombians find acceptable

Following Colombians' surprise rejection of a peace agreement with the Farc rebel group, President Juan Manuel Santos is seeking dialogue with those who opposed the peace deal.

Mr Santos appointed three top officials to "sit down for talks and guide this peace process to a happy ending".

The "no" campaign was led by ex-President Alvaro Uribe, who wants to see parts of the deal "corrected".

The two sides are expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday.


How did Colombia get here?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The deal was signed before it was put to a popular vote

The peace agreement was reached after four years of formal talks in the Cuban capital, Havana, between government and Farc negotiators.

From early on in the negotiations, President Santos announced he would put the final agreement to the Colombian people in a "yes" or "no" vote.

The deal was signed in a emotional ceremony on 26 September, just days before the referendum.

During the ceremony, rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, asked the victims of the Farc for forgiveness.

Polls suggested the agreement would be approved by a comfortable margin.

But as the results came in, it soon became clear that opposition to the agreement had been stronger than expected. The deal was rejected by 50.2% of voters.

The deep-seated divisions of Colombians on the issue became clear as some took to the streets to celebrate the result while others could be seen crying and despondent in front of the giant screens on which the results had been transmitted.


What is President Santos going to do now?

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Media captionPresident Juan Manuel Santos: "I am the guarantor of Colombia's stability"

President Santos, who won a second term in office in 2014 on a promise of reaching a peace deal with the Farc, has insisted he "will not give up".

On Monday, he despatched his lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, back to Cuba to talk to the Farc negotiators there.

He also appointed a team of top officials to open a dialogue with the opponents of the agreement.

They are: Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and Mr de la Calle.

He said Colombia "needs unity, we have to leave behind our quarrels, the hatred and the polarisation which causes us so much damage".

He said he hoped a meeting with the three politicians chosen to represent those who campaigned for a "no" vote could take place as soon as possible.


What are the plans of those opposed to the agreement?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Alvaro Uribe wants to go back and renegotiate certain aspects of the agreement

Mr Uribe has welcomed the outcome of the popular vote as a chance to "fix" a number of points in the peace agreement he considers unacceptable.

He wants the negotiations with the Farc to be re-opened so that a "peace with justice" can be negotiated.

Mr Uribe argues that the present agreement is too lenient because rebels who confess to committing serious crimes will not serve time in ordinary prisons.

He has appointed politicians Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, Ivan Duque and Carlos Holmes Trujillo to a commission which will seek to find common ground between the government and those opposed to the peace deal.

The commission is expected to meet later on Tuesday.


What do the Farc rebels say?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, addressed Colombians in a video message

Farc leader Timochenko said in a video message from Cuba that "peace had come to stay".

He said that the rebels would continue to observe the bilateral ceasefire they had signed with the government.

He also said that the rebels would abide by what they had agreed with the Colombian government.

"The war-mongering of those who want to sabotage this peace with dignity will never be stronger than the feelings of harmony, inclusion and social justice," he added.

Earlier he had said that the rebels were prepared to "fix" the deal and that the result of Sunday's vote "does not mean the battle for peace is lost".


What does the 'no' campaign want?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The "no" campaign argued that voting in favour of the agreement was voting for the Farc

Among the "corrections" those opposed to the deal have demanded are, among others:

·That those found guilty of crimes be barred from running for public office

·That Farc leaders serve time in prison for crimes committed

·That the Farc use their illicit gains to pay their victims compensation

·That no changes be made to the Colombian constitution


What are the challenges?

Image copyright AP
Image caption One newspaper said Colombians would need to show "patience"

If negotiations are re-opened, there are likely to be three parties at the table: the Farc, the government, and the "no" camp,.

Analysts say this is likely to make the negotiations more complicated.

The main challenge will be to find common ground between the "no" camp, which believes aspects of the deal were too soft on the rebels, and the rebel negotiators, who aim to get the best conditions for their fighters.

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