Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Monday that his reelection on Sunday has given him the mandate to continue peace talks with Marxist rebel groups FARC and ELN, and called on increased involvement of civil society.
In his first press conference after his reelection, the president admitted that strong opposition to the talks and his reelection have given Santos a “cold shower.”
Hard-line opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, endorsed by former President Alvaro Uribe and supported by a dissident faction of the Conservative Party, got 45% of the votes on Sunday on the promise he would renegotiate conditions to continue ongoing peace talks with the FARC.
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In order to win the election, Santos was forced to align with pro-talks leftist opposition parties who reluctantly but successfully endorsed the president’s reelection bid and were able to turn around the first round results that had put Zuluaga on top.
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|“This mandate that we heard yesterday forces me to put my life and soul into this process. And that’s what I will do starting today.”|
According to Santos, his election victory has given him the necessary mandate to continue and the obligation to successfully end the talks.
“This mandate that we heard yesterday forces me to put my life and soul into this process. And that’s what I will do starting today,” Santos told the reporters present in the presidential palace.
In line with a recent announcement that victim representatives will be included to the talks, Santos said that he will “invite everyone to take part in the construction of peace, in this process. They need to help me put an end to this conflict” that began in 1964 with the formation of the FARC and ELN.
Additionally, Santos announced he will prioritize “education over peace, about the benefits of peace,” blaming part of the resistance against ongoing talks on “disinformation” by opponents to the talks.
“Because I am sure that if one properly explains [the benefits of talks] to any of the persons who didn’t vote for me yesterday, that they do want peace, that they will say ‘ yes’,” the president said.
“And if one explains that the peace we are seeking is a peace without impunity …, a just peace …,and a peace that will create opportunities like never before, rest assured that these people will say ‘ yes’,” added Santos.