BOGOTA – The Colombian president said he would not rule out another referendum on a new peace deal with the FARC guerrillas, in an exclusive interview with EFE on Friday.
Though Juan Manuel Santos admitted that he had not originally taken into account the rejection risk of the first peace deal in the Oct. 2 referendum, he said he would not dismiss the possibility of a second referendum after new negotiations.
“It is one of the few alternatives available to me,” he said, adding that a new deal was in the works and that, once it is ready, he has several options for its endorsement. The Constitutional Court has agreed he does not need Congress’ permission to organize another referendum.
According to Santos, those who voted against the FARC deals would not want a new referendum, as they were aware that the political earthquake triggered by the rejection of the accords had changed a lot of things.
However, as the head of state, he said he had to opt for the path that would be least divisive, as the country needed to be more united and find peace.
“Around the world we are seeing polarized societies, and division only stagnates, it does not let decisions to be made and society progress,” said Santos.
The smoothest and least divisive path may very well be a referendum, he said, but no decision would be taken until the new deals are made and the level of public consensus is measured.
Santos said he first organized the referendum in order to validate the FARC deals signed on Sept. 26, as it was what he had promised the Colombian people and thought was the right thing to do, even though he could have signed the agreements without it.
“It was such an important step to take and I thought it was right, that it was the appropriate thing to do in a democracy and that it would legitimize peace,” the president noted.
But the results surprised him, as 50.21% of people voted against the deals.
“I confess that I never imagined this would be the result, but once again I believe that we are going to leave this better than we were before,” he said.
Santos said the rejection of the deals was caused by several factors, including misinformation, and admitted that he was in part responsible.
“I think I am responsible for not having informed the public appropriately and effectively. I thought people knew the deals and what I am realizing in these dialogues (with Colombian political leaders and broader society) is that they did not,” said President Santos.