BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the head of the government’s delegation to peace talks with FARC guerillas to return home from Havana on Friday for a meeting with opponents of the peace deal signed last month.
“I asked the head of the negotiating team, Humberto de la Calle; and the peace commissioner, Sergio Jaramillo, to return Friday so they can inform me about the progress with the FARC and to attend that and other meetings,” the head of state said Friday at the presidential palace.
Santos said the negotiators would take part in a meeting Saturday with spokespersons for the opposition Democratic Center party led by Santos’ hardline predecessor, former President Alvaro Uribe, the staunchest opponent of the peace agreement.
The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, signed a peace agreement on Sept. 26 in Cartagena after nearly four years of talks in Havana aimed at ending a more than five-decade armed conflict.
But after the “no” vote prevailed by a narrow margin in an Oct. 2 national referendum on the peace deal, the president needs to seek a consensus through talks with Uribe and the other main critics of the accord.
In his address, Santos said he had instructed his negotiators to work uninterruptedly to achieve a new agreement as soon as possible.
“Everything’s now on the table. Everything’s been said and everything’s been studied. It comes down to goodwill and making decisions. This can be achieved in a matter of days,” he added.
In an exclusive interview with EFE on Friday, the Colombian president said he expected that a revised peace agreement with the guerrillas would be concluded before the end of November.
“We have restarted a process that should end very soon, in a matter of weeks, not months, that will enable us to implement peace as soon as possible,” Santos said, adding that “the text and a new agreement is the objective we aim for before the end of November.”