Colombian voters in a referendum rejected the peace deal with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. With votes more than 99 per cent of polling stations counted, 50.2 per cent opposed the accord while 49.8 per cent supported it – a difference of less than 63000 votes out of 13 million ballots.
The deal was earlier signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez in fourth week of September 2016 after nearly four years of negotiations. But, it needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force.
FARC rebels had agreed to lay down their weapons after 52 years of conflict in order to join the political process. President Santos had said that there is no plan B for ending the war.
The result is being seen as a major setback to President Santos, who since his election in 2010, had pledged to end a conflict which has killed over 2 lakh 50000 people and displaced about eight million.
The formal peace talks for the deal were started three years ago, in October 2012, in the Cuban capital. Core area of Peace Talks
The peace talks between the government and the rebels were hosted by the Cuban president, Raul Castro. Venezuela that had the observer status played an important role in encouraging FARC to the negotiating table.
The core area of discussion focused on five main areas that is land reform, the rebels’ future role in political life, a definitive end of hostilities, fighting the illegal drug trade and the situation of the victims.
• The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC-EP) is a left wing militant organization established in 1964.
• It is Colombia’s largest rebel group and Latin America’s oldest left-wing insurgency. It is active in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador.
• Like any left-wing militant organisation, its aim is to overthrow the government in power.
• It was established as a communist-inspired peasant army fighting for land reform and to reduce the gulf dividing rich and poor in the Andean country.
• It resulted in killing of an estimated 2.2 lakh people and displaced almost seven million.