Colombia’s government and the main rebel group in the country have agreed on a revised peace deal six weeks after people narrowly rejected an original agreement in a referendum.
Bogota and the rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said on Saturday that they had incorporated proposals from the opposition, religious leaders and others in the revised edition of the peace deal.
“We call upon all Colombia and the international community… to back this new accord and its quick implementation so as to leave the tragedy of war in the past,” the representatives of both sides said in a statement. “Peace cannot wait anymore.”
The revised peace deal will be made public as of Sunday.
The government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC rebels had been negotiating in the Cuban capital of Havana before they first reached a peace deal in September. That deal, however, was surprisingly rejected by a narrow margin in a referendum two months later.
The opponents of the original deal worried that it did not properly punish FARC rebels for crimes committed in the past 52 years of armed conflict. Such opposition promoted new talks between the two sides, also in Havana, and the revised deal was reached rather quickly, indicating the will to establish peace.
President Santos, who won the Nobel peace prize despite the original deal’s rejection, now hopes to unite the divided country behind the new agreement.
Reports said it was unlikely that serving time in prison had been included in the revised deal, but Santos has said the deal would ensure FARC fighters sentenced by a special court would be restricted to certain areas of the country.
A suggestion by the Colombian opposition that FARC leaders not be allowed to run for office was not debated with the rebels, Santos said.
“It is very important Colombians understand that the reason for all peace processes in the world is precisely that rebels lay down arms and can participate in legal politics,” he said, adding, “Our process with the FARC is not and cannot be an exception.”
The government has not responded yet to requests by some opposition figures to hold a second referendum to approve the new deal.