Duque called the meeting last week after a war crimes tribunal decision not to extradite FARC leader “Jesus Santrich” spurred a major crisis in the government that can currently only count on the support of a congressional minority.
Colombia’s government in crisis after war crimes tribunal bins US extradition request for FARC leader
In response, Duque called on “all parties” to come together, but ended up inviting only the center-right voting block that consists of the Liberal Party, Radical Change and the U Party to the presidential palace.
The president and his far-right Democratic Center (CD) party have opposed the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and fiercely rejected the transitional court’s decision to block the extradition of the FARC leader and order an investigation into possible misconduct by the prosecution and the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration.
The center-right voting block and the leftist opposition have supported the JEP, who can prevent the extradition of alleged war criminals in order to protect the rights of their victims.
According to Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, “the idea is to find points of common ground to know if we can project a legislative act or an additional legislative package in which we can work together” in the government’s ongoing attempt to weaken the JEP’s powers.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the meeting failed to meet this objective as the center-right parties continue to support the peace process and want the government to include the opposition if it wants to form a “great national pact.”
“Talks like these can only be held with the participation of opposition groups and it would be very convenient to know if the Democratic Center would be interested in taking part in this,” Liberal Party leader Cesar Gaviria was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Basically, the ruling party would have to end its attempts to sabotage the peace process if Duque wants the support of the moderates in Congress to advance his political agenda.
Also the U Party wants Uribe and Duque to reach out to the opposition parties that include the FARC, the former guerrillas that laid down their weapons in 2017.
“We must convene a round table attended by all the political sectors, including the opposition, in which specific points are defined, such as the case of extradition, on which I believe a consensus can be reached,” said U Party president Aurelio Iragorri.
But with Uribe’s alleged involvement in multiple war crimes being investigated by the JEP this would be hardly an option for the party that considers its leader “the eternal president.”
German Vargas, the boss of conservative Cambio Radical party, said the meeting was “useful and constructive,” but showed no sign of giving up the key position his party enjoys in Congress without major concessions by Duque and his minority coalition.
As things stand, Duque’s minority coalition is cornered and will either have to move to the middle or accept that Duque has become a sitting duck president well before the end of his first year in office.