10 million Colombians allowed to vote on referendum on peace accords with guerrilla group
By Richard McColl
BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia’s Congress approved a motion Friday that will permit 10 million citizens to vote in a referendum on peace accords with a guerrilla group.
When the outcomes of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are publicized in 2016, details of the accords will be subject to a referendum.
“The plebiscite is one of the mechanisms with which we can achieve this new Colombia,” President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday night. “Using the plebiscite is like an inflection point which societies have used, those societies which over history have changed their future for good,” he added.
Approximately 4.4 million of the 10 million voters eligible for the referendum would have to vote in favor of the accords in order to pass.
“Peace does not come free, there is a price,” said Santos. “These are the costs of this packet compared to the costs of continuing this war for another 20 or 30 years, this is what the Colombian people will have to decide upon.”
FARC released a statement expressing doubt about the referendum. “This does not provide legal security and does not involve us,” the group said from Havana where it has been negotiation a peace deal with the Colombian government since 2012. “It is disorienting. One cannot risk the whole outcome of a final peace agreement to luck. To do so would be a disaster.”
The FARC has been involved in a long-running internal conflict with the Colombian state that spans more than half a century.
The conflict has displaced more than 5 million individuals and caused the deaths of more than 220,000 citizens.