Members of the FARC will not be able to attend a Colombian Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of a potential peace referendum, according to a press release published Tuesday by the rebel group, Colombia’s oldest.
The FARC was hoping to send a small delegation to Bogota to voice its opposition to the proposal, which would submit the terms of any future peace deal to emerge from ongoing negotiations between the Colombian government and the rebels to a national voter referendum. According to the FARC statement, however, the rebels were denied safe passage into by Colombian authorities.
The push for a peace referendum was initiated last August by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and in late October of 2013, Congress passed a measure calling for voter approval of any negotiation settlement.
The FARC has been vocally opposed to this measure since the beginning, though, expressing fears that an open vote would lead to interference from violent right-wing groups active in the country, and saying most recently that “the government makes many determinations that should be agreed upon after (bilateral) discussions and made together.”
FARC representatives worry a post-peace accord referendum could alter the legitimacy of the negotiated points in the eventual peace agreement. In Tuesday’s press release, the leader of the FARC peace delegation, alias “Ivan Marquez,” said, “To affect the peace process with exogenous circumstances or elements alien to the agenda could truncate or belittle its equality.”
The FARC is the oldest and most powerful rebel group in the Colombia. The group has been participating in peace talks with the Colombian government since November 2012, in Cuba. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legitimacy of a voter referendum, nor has it announced a date for its decision.