Thousands of Colombians took to streets in the capital, Bogota, on Wednesday, demanding the revival of a peace deal, which was rejected by a narrow margin in a nationwide referendum earlier this month. The government and F.A.R.C. rebels had earlier signed a peace agreement to put an end to decades-long bloodshed in the country but many remained critical of the accord, describing it as too lenient on the Marxist guerrillas, who have perpetrated war crimes for years in Colombia.
Demonstrators comprising students, farmers and indigenous leaders gifted white flowers to the families of victims to symbolize peace, writes the BBC. F.A.R.C. leader Timoleon Rodriguez, better known as Timochenko, said he hoped that the peace deal could be revived, while admitting his reluctance to re-negotiate the terms of the agreement.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the 2016 Nobel peace prize for his relentless efforts to end the 52-year-long conflict in Colombia, is in talks with the rebel leaders and the opposition to make amendments in the deal, as calls for stiffer punishment for the rebels grow louder, reports Al Jazeera.
Under the agreement, if the rebels admit to their crimes they can get away with alternative punishment such as community service in the areas worst hit by the conflict, a provision that has been strongly opposed by former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the campaign against the peace deal, notes ABC News.