Colombia peace deal to be implemented on Thursday: Santos

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday that Thursday is “D-Day,” the first day of the implementation of a revised peace deal between the government and FARC rebels.

Colombia’s House of Representatives still has to vote on the deal, but the vast congressional majority taking part in Wednesday’s session has been outspokenly in favor of passing the deal as soon as possible.

The only opponent in Congress is the conservative Democratic Center party, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, but this party only has 11% of the seats and poses hardly a legislative threat.

In spite pending allegations of war crimes, the former president has substantial electoral influence and strong political backing by rural elites.

A previous version of the peace deal was struck down in an October 2 referendum, four days after the initially planned D-Day, largely because of Uribe’s public opposition.

However, following weeks of negotiations between opponents and supporters of that deal and increased concerns about public security caused by the referendum results, Santos decided to allow Congress, and not the public, to vote on the revised pact.

While D-Day mainly marks the 180-day demobilization and disarmament of the FARC guerrillas, it also marks the beginning of a period in which the president has extended powers to pass bills regarding political and rural reforms agreed with the FARC.

Negotiations to end the conflict between the FARC and the state that’s been waging since 1964 began in secret in 2011 and went public in 2012.

The initial peace deal was announced in August. The implementation of its revision is just in time before Congress’ Christmas recess.

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