A new peace deal with FARC rebels could be finished by the end of November, Colombia President Santos told Spanish press agency EFE.
To ratify this renegotiated deal Santos said a second referendum is “one of the alternatives I have at my disposal.”
According to the president, the Constitutional Court “determined that I could call a new referendum without permission from Congress.”
The other alternative is sending the renegotiated deal to Congress where Santos’ peace efforts counts on the support of all parties, with the exception of that of his main political rival, former President Alvaro Uribe‘s Democratic Center.
“I haven’t discarded either and once we have the new accords, depending on the broadness of the consensus, we will determine which road to take.
President Juan Manuel Santos
According to Santos, he will “choose the way that least divides the country.”
This decision will be taken “in the coming weeks, not months but weeks,” the president told EFE.
The FARC, with whom the government is negotiating proposals from political opponents and civil society on Thursday said it was “close” to have agreement on “adjustments and clarifications” of the pact to end 52 years of armed conflict.
To broaden consensus on the virtues of the peace deal, the president has invited a broad range of political minorities to propose amendments or demand clarifications.
At the same time, the president has tried to diminish the resistance of the most radical and vocal of his opponents, Uribe, by isolating him from moderate critics.
Apart from being ideologically opposed to the FARC, the former president has a vested personal interest in the peace deal that could potentially land him in prison.
Uribe is facing increased allegations he and his family had ties to paramilitary death squads.
Additionally, when Uribe was president, the military executed thousands of innocent civilians in an apparent effort to inflate the success of the military operations carried out against the FARC and other illegal armed groups.
By marginalizing his predecessor, Santos could win a second referendum after losing the first one with a razor-sharp 55,000-vote difference. This option, however, is risky as Uribe can count on significant support.
Moreover, the peace talks have severely divided Colombia, making the prediction of the outcome of a possible second referendum almost impossible.