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Colombia and FARC agree on new deal, but no referendum this time

The Colombian government and the FARC guerilla group have agreed to sign a new peace accord. A previous agreement was rejected by the electorate in a referendum, but no public vote will be held the next time around.

A revised document is to be signed in the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Thursday, after the previous deal was rejected by voters who though it was too favorable to the rebels.
"Consolidation of peace requires that we advance with a firm step toward implementation of the accord that permits us to overcome so many years of conflict in Colombia," the government and FARC negotiating teams said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Terms of the new agreement were published last week, in an effort to garner support for the accord. However, Colombia's electorate will not have an opportunity to directly reject it this time around. 

Instead - in a decision made behind closed doors on Monday - the accord must be ratified by Congress. That plan is likely to anger members of the opposition, including former President Alvaro Uribe who wants more far-reaching changes to the document. Uribe has said another referendum should be held, expressing his confidence that voters would once again reject the latest deal.

Moderate changes to text

The current 310-page document appears to make only limited changes to the original text, such as a clarification of private property rights and additional details about how rebels are to be confined for crimes committed during the war.

Watch video 00:30

Hope for Colombia peace deal

Government negotiator Humberto de La Calle described the new agreement as "much better" than the previous one when it was agreed earlier this month. However, he did not say at the time whether it would be submitted to voters or congress for approval. "The new deal is an opportunity to clear up doubts, but above all to unite us," he said.

President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono signed the previous agreement in September, in the city of Cartagena. The event - attended by several heads of state - was a heavily symbolic one, featuring symbols of doves and a pen made from recycled ammunition. Santos went on to win the Nobel Prize for peace for his efforts in securing the deal. 

However, the new accord appears likely to be less likely to be surrounded by pomp with the ceremony due to take place in the capital's small and intimate Colon Theater. 

Negotiations have been talking place in the Cuban capital, Havana, for the last four years. Conflict between FARC and the government has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions. 



rc/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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