BOGOTA A new peace accord between Colombia's government and Marxist FARC rebels will be signed on Thursday and sent to Congress for approval, the two sides said on Tuesday, bringing an end to the five-decade-long civil war ever closer.The revised document will be signed in Bogota between FARC leader Rodrigo Londono and President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his efforts to end the conflict with the insurgent group."Consolidation of peace requires that we advance with a firm step toward implementation of the accord that permits us to overcome so many years of conflict in Colombia," the government and FARC negotiating teams said in a joint statement.The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been in talks in Havana, Cuba for the last four years, hammering out a deal to end a conflict that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions within the Andean country. The government published the revised peace deal last week in a bid to build support after the original draft was rejected in an Oct. 2 referendum amid objections it was too favourable to the rebels.
Santos and Londono signed the original deal two months ago in an emotional ceremony before world leaders and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The decision to ratify the revised accord in Congress instead of holding another referendum will anger members of the opposition, particularly former President Alvaro Uribe who spearheaded the push to reject the original accord and wants deeper changes to the new version.
The expanded and highly technical 310-page document appears to make only small modifications to the original text, such as clarifying private property rights and detailing more fully how the rebels would be confined in rural areas for crimes committed during the war.The FARC, which began as a rebellion fighting rural poverty has battled a dozen governments as well as right-wing paramilitary groups.
An end to the war with the FARC is unlikely to end violence in Colombia as the lucrative cocaine business has given rise to dangerous criminal gangs and traffickers.Uribe has criticized it as just a tweaked version of the original and wants rebel leaders to be banned from holding public office and for them to be jailed for crimes. The government has said it will make no more changes to the deal. (Reporting by Helen Murphy, editing by G Crosse)
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