Colombian president proposes referendum on peace deal with FARC rebels

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-10-2 1:52:48

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Tuesday presented a bill to congress, calling for a referendum on any eventual peace deal with the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Santos said the proposed bill, though expected to be approved during the current legislative session, should be negotiated with the rebels.

"The referendum has to be negotiated with the other party. We will see if this is possible in the coming days," he said.

Since last November, the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas have been holding peace talks in Havana, Cuba to end five decades of armed conflict.

In August this year, Santos proposed for the first time to hold a referendum to ratify any peace accord.

The bill will be a priority issue during the current legislative session, said Santos, adding that the referendum is only a means of facilitating a public consultation and should not be considered as a "peace endorsement."

The president called for "time limits," since a referendum, if approved by congress, needs other legal procedures to be organized to coincide with next year's general elections on May 24.

So far, the FARC has not agreed to Santos' proposal, arguing it is a unilateral decision. Instead it proposed constitutional changes.

The Colombian government and the FARC will resume peace talks Thursday in Havana after a recess from Sept. 19.

The FARC, with 8,000 members, is the largest armed rebel group in Colombia.

Posted in: Americas

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