Santos strikes surprising deal with Inspector General over Colombia peace talks

Juan Manuel Santos (L) and Alejandro Ordoñez

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez reached an understanding on Thursday, in a turn of events that could facilitate a successful conclusion of an ongoing peace process with rebel group FARC.

As the relationship between Santos and Ordoñez up to date has been filled with dissent, it can be considered as surprise that the meeting in Valledupar, in northeastern Colombia, saw the president accepting three major demands advocated by Ordoñez.

The three conditions are: that FARC dissolves as criminal organization immediately after signing of the peace treaty, that it accepts it had been responsible for numerous crimes, and that it attends to the rights of the victims of these crimes.

President Santos began his speech by admitting he was “captivated” and persuaded by the arguments of the Inspector General, who until then had been more of a critic than supporter of the head of state.

Less than a week ago, the President referred to Ordoñez’s remarks on FARC’s supreme leader”Timochenko‘s” visit to the peace talks in Cuba as “not appropriate.”

In his statement on Thursday, Santos made sure to address the demands of the Inspector General. It was a gesture that hardly anyone expected.

“Mr. Inspector General, hereby, in front of all of the politicians in the country, I guarantee you that if none of the conditions are met, peace agreement won’t be reached.”

Santos then continued explaining.

“Of course we have to dissolve FARC, under no circumstance will I accept an armed group in politics. It is obvious that they have to accept that they are the perpetrators, and it beyond doubt that they must address the rights of  their victims,” said the President.

He was emphatic and committed, as he watched Ordoñez sitting in the front row of the auditorium. “Those three conditions must be fulfilled, or there will be no peace” he said.

The Inspector General, who had objected aspects of the negotiations with FARC on various occasions in the past, also surprised on Thursday implying that Uribe-loyal lawmakers (though not named explicitly) should join public debate on peace process.

“It is absurd to have talks with FARC but not with factions critical of the process; but it is also absurd that those who criticize today, yesterday could discuss with AUC, but now wouldn’t do it with the government,” said Ordoñez.

He insisted that a pact encompassing all social and political sectors is required to guarantee judicial and political sustainability of peace in Colombia. “A worthwhile pact to ensure that what is approved, is fulfilled” concluded the Inspector General.


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