Colombian voters rejected a historic peace deal between the government and F.A.R.C. rebels in a referendum held on Sunday. The landmark agreement, which was signed last week after extensive negotiations spanning over the past four years, required to be ratified by Colombians before it came into effect. Addressing the nation immediately after the shocking result, President Juan Manuel Santos vowed to continue his efforts towards ending one of the longest-running conflicts in the Americas.
Critics believe that the peace deal, which was rejected by 50.24 percent Colombians, was too lenient on the Marxist guerrillas and had made too many concessions to persuade the voters in its favor, writes the BBC. Santos said that the bilateral ceasefire that has been in place since August 29 would continue, as the two sides prepare to meet and discuss the next move.
Influential former president Alvaro Uribe, who led the “No” campaign said that people desire an end to the conflict but at the same time want to ensure that the necessary corrections are made so that the constitution is not compromised, reports Reuters. Under the peace accord, many rebel leaders accused of war crimes could get away with alternative punishments like clearing landmines.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, expressed disappointment at the unexpected referendum result, saying that Colombians should pursue the “imperfect agreement,” as it represents a concrete way forward for peace and justice, notes The Guardian.