Colombia peace referendum bill stalls after lawmakers fail to turn up to vote

(Photo: Vice President's Office)

The final vote in Colombia’s Congress to approve the text of the referendum that could seal an eventual peace deal with the FARC was delayed on Wednesday after too few representatives turned up to cast their vote, according to local media.

On October 24 the same chamber approved the idea of having a referendum about any eventual peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s second-largest rebel group FARC; but this vote would have sealed the textual content of said referendum.

MORE: Colombia’s Congress approves referendum to seal eventual peace deal with FARC

MORE: Colombia’s government stresses necessity for referendum on peace talks

Reports suggest that only 76 representatives were present to vote, failing to reach the needed quorum of 84. The vote has now been delayed until November 5.

The representative responsible for the referendum, Alfonso Prada, called the absence of his colleagues “shameful.”

“It appears paradoxical to me because first the Senate had objected to the bill, then it was ratified and approved by the Senate in a conciliation, and now the House of Representatives doesn’t show up to vote. It’s embarrassing to give this message to the country,” he said. “This is inexplicable and unacceptable behavior.”

This seems to be a common problem in Colombia’s Congress, as a similar incident occurred in the Senate two weeks ago in an important vote about health reform.

MORE: Half of Colombia’s senators fail to show up at health care reform vote

Peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC have been taking place in Havana, Cuba, since November 18, 2012. So far the talks have only yielded an agreement on land reform; no agreements have yet been made on the issue of the FARC’s political participation, drug trafficking, the practicalities of the end of the armed conflict, the rights of the victims, and how to implement any potential peace agreement.

In a joint statement released this morning both parties said that they would take the extraordinary step of continuing the peace talks over the weekend to finalize an agreement on political participation, the second point on the six-point agenda.

MORE: 2-day extension of current round of FARC peace talks suggests significant progress




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