Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe formally rejected a revised peace deal and the coalition Conservative Party demanded a second referendum after a vote sunk the initial pact with the country’s largest rebel group.
The new deal is expected to be before Congress on Wednesday so that the legislative body can begin debates to ultimately ratify the agreement and resume the peace process agreed to between the government and the Marxist FARC rebel group after 52-years of violence.
The announcements cast some uncertainty over Santos’ push to have the the peace deal ratified via Congress as together, Uribe’s Democratic Center party and the Conservatives make up a significant part of his majority coalition.
In a statement read aloud by Uribe on Monday, the opposition stated that the new agreement is “barely a retouching of the agreement rejected by the citizens” back in October, and pushed for another referendum vote on the matter.
According to the Santos administration, the revised deal addressed more than 80% of the opposition’s concerns, is final, and needs to be implemented as soon as possible, especially in light of the recent increase in violence around the country.
Congress is currently debating the peace deal behind closed doors, but not yet considering its ratification.
While the Conservatives supported the initial peace deal rejected by referendum in October, Party president David Barguil argued that, while it is “possible to start implementing the new peace agreement through Congress…such a decision would be nothing more than an outrage to the will of Colombians who have already expressed their disagreements with the initial agreement at the polls.”
Former president and Conservative leader Andres Pastrana, a long-time opponent of both deals, also voiced his objection, complaining that the revised deal is being signed “unconsciously,” is “against the electoral result,” and that the changes made are purely “cosmetic.”
The Conservative Party has long been uneasy in Santos’ cabinet that, and in the case of peace with the FARC, has received the unconditional support of the leftist opposition.
While the party maintains cabinet positions, its bench announced in 2015 already it would not be loyal to the governing coalition and would decide on its voting independently.
The Conservatives, together with Uribe’s Democratic Center (CD) party, comprise nearly 33% of the bicameral Congress.
Unless others from Santos’ coalition deflect, the president should not worry. A simple majority is needed to ratify the revised peace deal.