President Juan Manuel Santos On Thursday invited his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, for a private meeting at the presidential palace to make amends, but no avail. The former president rejected the invitation.
The president also met Uribe at the beginning of this month, days after the country’s voters narrowly rejected a peace deal with the country’s largest and oldest-living rebel group.
However, the meeting did not result in much and Santos proceeded to talk with other sectors that had promoted a “No” vote in the referendum that asked Colombia to ratify the historic peace deal.
For weeks, the president and ministers have been meeting with Evangelical pastors, businessmen and FARC victim representatives to receive proposals and negotiate “adjustments and clarifications” to the deal.
On Wednesday, a top government delegation met with some of Uribe’s closest allies, effectively isolating the former president, who has resisted peace with the FARC for years, even further.
Uribe said Wednesday he remained willing to meet with Santos and fellow-opponents of the peace deal.
On Thursday morning Santos said on Caracol Radio “I invite him alone. I’m ready to talk. This is about us shaking hands and moving towards the future,” the president said.
Uribe immediately rejected, saying in a Tweet that his party “only attends meetings in which other ‘No’ spokespersons are present.”
The two politicians were allies when Uribe was president between 2002 and 2010, but grew apart after Santos had taken office and appointed some of Uribe’s political enemies while seeking talks with the FARC.
The rivals’ came head to head in the October 2 referendum that delivered Uribe’s first Pyrrhic electoral victory since, ironically, Santos’ election in 2010.
However, since then Santos has successfully divided opposition, dealing with significant minorities’ concerns while dismissing some of Uribe as “unfeasible.”
Uribe’s stubbornness and Santos’ politicking could land the former president in prison as he is accused of severe crimes against humanity committed when he was president and governor of his home province Antioquia.
These crimes would be tried by a post-conflict transitional justice system Uribe wants to be removed from the peace deal.