Colombia’s government will sign a new peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, after a previous deal was rejected in a referendum last month.
President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC chief Rodrigo Londono are to sign the agreement in Bogota’s Colon Theatre on Thursday at 11am (1600 GMT), a statement released by government peace negotiators said.
The agreement is then expected to be approved by the country’s Congress, where the ruling centre-right coalition National Unity has a majority.
The FARC and government negotiators introduced some 50-plus changes to the original accord that failed to convince voters.
We have the unique opportunity to close this painful chapter in our history that has bereaved and afflicted millions of Colombians for half a century.
But opposition groups say it still does not go far enough in punishing rebels for human rights abuses. Santos’ chief rival, ex-president Alvaro Uribe, has rejected even the revised deal.
Uribe has insisted, for instance, that FARC leaders should not be allowed to run for office while still serving sentences for atrocities.
“Whether the entire [current] text is voted on, or just the issues that have been sensitive and where there has been no agreement, we ought to do it by national referendum,” Uribe said.
Political analyst Jorge Restrepo said it would be better if there were a consensus in Colombia on the new accord.
“But that is almost impossible to achieve” given the demands of Uribe’s party, Restrepo said.
The deal is aimed at ending more than 50 years of civil war, in which more than 220,000 people have been killed.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Santos said: “We have the unique opportunity to close this painful chapter in our history that has bereaved and afflicted millions of Colombians for half a century.”
The original deal was signed two months ago in a ceremony before world leaders but it was rejected in a referendum on 2 October.
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