Colombian voters reject agreement with FARC rebels

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Ban Ki-moon and Juan Carlos in Cuba.

AFTER the much heralded signing of the peace treaty between the Colombian government and FARC rebels in Cuba which attracted the likes of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Spanish King Juan Carlos, the result of a referendum on October 2 asking the people of Colombia to back the peace accord saw it narrowly rejected.

With a very low turn-out of just 38 per cent eligible to vote, the deal was rejected by 50.2 per cent of the 13 million who bothered to turn out to vote which leaves the government in something of a quandary having negotiated the deal over a period of four years.

This shock result came about it would appear, because of three major problems perceived by voters. Firstly it seems that the voters believed that rebels who had committed crimes should not be given lenient sentences in special prisons as some 175,000 civilians had been killed during the time that FARC has existed.

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Secondly with the country facing financial difficulty, they considered it unreasonable that ‘retired rebels’ should be given a monthly pension and financial assistance in case they wanted to start their own businesses whilst ordinary citizens were left to their own financial devices.

Finally, voters did not like the idea that a political arm of FARC would automatically be guaranteed 10 seats in the next two parliamentary elections as this appeared to give them an unfair advantage over the more traditional and establish political parties.

Time will now tell whether FARC will accept this decision and simply eschew further violence or whether it will re-form as a rebel group looking to overthrow the existing government.

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