The Santos administration has been negotiating peace with the country’s largest and longest-living rebel group since 2011 and expects to finalize a peace deal within weeks.
In fact, the president had earlier said this peace deal would be ready for ratification by the people before Wednesday, the country’s Independence Day.
In his speech before members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Santos called on the lawmakers to unite behind peace, urging that this would be the first year of a post-conflict Colombia.
“In the legislative year that begins today you will face the challenge of approving the laws and reforms that are necessary to implement the peace deals, reforms that will benefit Colombia and we would have to undertake sooner or later,” said Santos.
“In other words, the time has come for you to complete your mission, because this congress of peace will soon become the congress of post-conflict,” the president added.
Santos urged the congressional supporters of a peace deal with the FARC to begin educating their constituencies about the contents of the deals made with the FARC.
Earlier this week, the country’s Constitutional Court approved a plebiscite that will allow Colombians to vote for or against peace with the guerrillas who have fought the state for more than half a century.
Santos also called on the conservative opposition, led by his predecessor Alvaro Uribe, to continue its opposition ” with arguments, but without half-truths, with realities and no myths so that Colombians can freely define their future.”
The opposition, whose members took part in the session wearing a black mourning-band, has vehemently rejected the talks, claiming that the only legitimate peace deal with the FARC is their surrender and the protection of members of the military who, like the guerrillas, are accused of having carried out thousands of human rights violations during the conflict.
Both opposing benches in Congress have been campaigning for and against the pending deal that if all goes as planned will be put before Colombian voters in the coming four months.