With Colombia’s conservative opposition boycotting the vote, the country’s senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a revised peace deal between the state and Marxist FARC rebels.
Colombia’s Congress’ high chamber took 12 hours to debate the deal and had invited a range of speakers of both supporters and opponents of the peace deal, whose initial version was struck down in a referendum on October 2.
Opposition party Democratic Center (CD), which in Congress has solely opposed peace with the FARC since peace talks began in 2012, abandoned the senate at the time of the vote, leaving the pact with a 75-0 vote.
Numerous members of the party, particularly former President Alvaro Uribe, risk being called to trial in a transitional justice tribunal over the mass violation of human rights committed by the state while Uribe was president between 2002 and 2010.
Current president Juan Manuel Santos expressed his satisfaction over the vote and said he was “committed to the peace we long for.”
The deal that seeks an end to 52 years of armed conflict between the rebels and the state, and impose a number of political and rural reforms to curb the causes of political violence will be debated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Also in that chamber, lawmakers support for the deal, with the exception of the CD.
If the House approves the deal as expected, this means the government can immediately resume the peace process as urged by the United Nations, which oversees the demobilization and disarmament of the FARC.
The shock “No” vote to the peace deal on October 2 immediately suspended the process and caused disarray among FARC guerrillas who had already begun demobilizing.
In order to avoid outbreaks of violence and violations of a bilateral ceasefire between the guerrillas and the military, the UN had already begun moving FARC guerrillas to pre-grouping zones.
House approval of the peace deal would mean Wednesday becomes the formal “D-Day” of the peace process. This D-Day is the first day of a strict timetable that should lead to the FARC’s demobilization and disarmament within six months.
After that, a transitional justice tribunal and a truth commission will look into the tens of thousands of violations of humanitarian law committed by both parties.
Depending on how many FARC guerrillas deserted their organization because of the “No” vote, the guerrilla group is expected to demobilize some 17,000 fighters and militia members, who can all apply for amnesty.
The most bitter of judicial pills is for the Colombian state, which has 24,400 (former) officials either convicted or charged for war crimes and ready to enter the transitional justice system.