BOGOTA - The president of Colombia late Sunday recognized the victory of the "No" side in the referendum on the peace agreement signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and said this result would open a new political reality which could be an opportunity for the country.
Juan Manuel Santos, who had promoted the "yes" campaign, ordered government negotiators to return to Havana on Monday to consult with the FARC leaders.
Colombian FARC top leader, Timoleon Jimenez, known as "Timochenko" said in Havana that the insurgent group maintained "its desire for peace" and repeated that they will "use only words as a weapon to build toward the future."
"The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia deeply regrets that the destructive power of those who sow hatred and rancor have influenced the opinion of the Colombian population," Timochenko said in a first statement after the surprise victory for the No camp in the referendum.
"To the Colombian people who dream of peace, count on us, peace will triumph," concluded Timochenko.
At the end of counting, the insurgent group asked reporters in Havana to leave the room so that they can talk before issuing an official statement.
The FARC guerrillas plan to hold a meeting to "calmly analyze all the details" of the outcome.
The Colombian president stressed that the "definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities" between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, which took effect on August 29, "is still in force, and will remain in force."
"I won't give up," said Santos and promised to continue "the search for peace until the last moment" of his mandate, because that's the way to leave a better country for Colombia's children.
According to the official result, with almost 100 percent of the vote counted, 49.77 percent or 6.374.491 voted for while 50.22 percent of voters or 6,430,909 voters voted against the deal.