BOGOTA – Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos opened on Monday a dialogue with the opposition “Uribist” faction in order to head toward peace with the guerrillas after the unexpected defeat of the “yes” campaign in Sunday’s referendum on the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
In a statement, Santos said he received three members of the opposition Democratic Center party and former president and Senator Alvaro Uribe, leader of the “no” campaign in the referendum, to sit down to talk towards peace.
On Sunday, the “no” campaign won with 50.21 percent, compared to 49.78 percent who approved the peace treaty.
In his statement, Santos reiterated his call for unity and asked to “leave grudges, hatred and polarization behind.”
“With willingness for peace, I’m sure we can find solutions that are satisfactory for all,” he added.
“From our part, there are willingness and determination to make it happen,” he said.
Uribe, meanwhile, said that his party is willing to talk and asked the political organizations that support Santos if the government is willing to listen if they want to make some changes in the peace agreement.
He also added that everyone wants “peace and no violence.”
The Democratic Center and the Colombian Conservative Party led by former President Andres Pastrana are the only political forces that have expressed their opposition to the peace agreement and promoted the “no” campaign in the plebiscite.
In the morning, Santos met with other political representatives at a meeting attended by several cabinet members and leaders of the ruling Social Party of National Unity, the Colombia Liberal Party, Colombian Conservative Party, Radical Change, Colombian Green Party and the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole.
They all gave their support to go ahead and try to find a solution for the conflict so that they can find peace after the Colombian citizens narrowly rejected the peace deal.
However, uncertainty about the future grew when FARC top leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko,” released a video saying although the referendum vote has “political effect,” it “has no legal effect whatsoever.”
The FARC leader reaffirmed his commitment to end the conflict, saying “peace is here to stay.”