BOGOTA Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe on Monday proposed that leaders of the Marxist FARC rebel group lose their freedom for at least five years and they would be banned from elected office as part of changes to a peace deal between the government and the insurgents.Uribe, now a popular opposition senator, led the group of Colombians that narrowly rejected a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a plebiscite last week, throwing a long negotiation to end the 52-year war into limbo.Representatives of those who voted "No" presented the government with the first in a series of changes they want implemented in the accord which was signed on Sept. 26 by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko.Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end the war.Uribe opposed FARC leaders receiving non-traditional sentences like clearing landmines, and instead insisted that those found guilty of war-time crimes should lose their freedom for between five and eight years even if they are held on agricultural farms. He also wants them banned from holding elected office.
Although the FARC has said it is willing to hear new ideas, Uribe's proposals may be difficult for its leadership to accept, given they have repeatedly refused to consider jail time and they want to form a political party. Uribe, who scored major military gains against the FARC when he was president, fought against the negotiations since Santos began the peace talks in 2012, describing them as far too lenient on rebel leaders and a national embarrassment.He accused Santos of selling out Colombians by promising 10 congressional seats instead of prison cells in return for ending a conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people.
Santos said they must move quickly to present the new ideas to the FARC."What's vital now is that we get over this uncertainty quickly," he said in a speech after announcing peace talks with the second biggest rebel group, the ELN."They mustn't be impossible proposals."
Uribe also proposed that as many as 7,000 FARC fighters who have not been involved in serious crimes should receive amnesty and help eradicate coca, the raw material that goes to make cocaine.But those involved in drug trafficking should be tried as ordinary criminals and not be judged for political crimes.The original peace accord envisaged FARC rebels handing over their weapons and confessing to their crimes. Those involved in serious crimes would have been restricted to certain areas for eight years. (Reporting by Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta)
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