Colombia government and FARC guerrilla negotiators are “close” to reaching agreement on amendments to a peace deal that was rejected by the country’s voters earlier this month, FARC chief Rodrigo Londoño said Wednesday.
Voters rejected the initial deal in an October 2 referendum, rejecting the compromises made in the five years preceding the agreement that delivered President Juan Manuel Santos a Nobel Peace Prize.
The vote disallowed the president to execute the peace process that had already begun after the signing of the deal on September 26.
After two and a half weeks of talking to a variety of opposition forces and four days of negotiating, Londoño said on Twitter that the parties already are “close to define the agreement covering the uncertainties of the common people.”
One of the FARC’s negotiators, “Pastor Alape,” said on Twitter a new peace deal is “taking shape.”
The government has made no statements about progress made in the talks, whose first round should end Friday.
Following the first week of talks, the government’s chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, is expected to return to Colombia and present the “adjustments and clarifications” both parties have promised.
While the leading opponent of the talks was former President Alvaro Uribe, who has opposed the talks since they formally began in 2012, Santos has mainly been talking to other sectors of society like Evangelical Christians and business leaders.
On Tuesday, Santos met with former Defense Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez and former Peace Commissioner Camilo Gomez, who represented former President Andres Pastrana, in an attempt to get the prominent Conservative Party dissidents on board.
Uribe was not invited to the meeting.
Pressured by the United States and the United Nations, the president is in a hurry to present a new peace deal and resume the peace process that was stopped in its tracks just when the FARC was about to demobilize and disarm.
The shock vote created a crisis situation in the countryside where other armed groups and local drug traffickers are vying to take over abandoned FARC territory before the military assumes control.
To prevent this and a possible mass desertion of FARC members to the ELN guerrilla group, the United Nations, the military and the FARC agreed to proceed with the demobilization in so-called “temporary pre-grouping points.”
It is unclear whether Santos will call a new referendum or send the amended peace deal to Congress for the ratification needed to resume the process that seeks to en 52 years of armed conflict between the guerrillas and the state that has left approximately 8 million victims.