Eamon Gilmore commends Colombia after peace deal rejected

EU special envoy ‘optimistic’ after latest agreement signed by government and Farc

People  celebrate a new agreement between the Colombian government and the Farc rebel group. Photograph: Leonardo Munoz/EPA

People celebrate a new agreement between the Colombian government and the Farc rebel group. Photograph: Leonardo Munoz/EPA

 

EU special envoy for the peace process in Colombia and former tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has commended the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) for responding to the initial rejection of the nation’s peace accord in a “serious” and “constructive” manner.

Speaking in Dublin on Thursday, Mr Gilmore said he was optimistic about the latest peace agreement signed by both parties last weekend.

“The most remarkable thing is how quickly and how positively everybody who was engaged in the plebiscite responded to the result. That evening the president went on air, accepted the result and stated that it was his intention to proceed with seeking an agreement for peace in Colombia.”

The initial peace accord to end more than 50 years of conflict was rejected in a referendum on October 2nd by just 55,000 votes. In response, Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos initiated a national dialogue to address the concerns of opponents of the deal who had said it was too lenient on the rebel group.

“We have to bear in mind that this only took six weeks,” said Mr Gilmore, speaking at a Christian Aid conference entitled Building Peace in Protracted Crises. “We’ve seen the various breakdowns that happened in our own peace process – the ceasefire broke down in 1996 when the IRA bombed the financial centre of London. It took months, sometimes years, for it all to be put together again.

Amendments

“This was where the Evangelical churches and sectors of the Catholic Church opposed it on the grounds that there were references in relation to LGBT issues that should be replaced by more family-friendly language.”

Unfortunately, said Mr Gilmore, there was no agreement on the eligibility of members of Farc to participate in congress. “That is at the core of the peace agreement. The whole idea here is that the armed conflict ends and Farc pursue their objectives exclusively through political democratic means but they have to have the means by which to do that.”

It’s not clear year whether the new agreement will be put to referendum or if it will simply be approved by congress.

Also speaking on Thursday, Diego Alejandro Melo, a member of the Tierra Digna organisation, asked whether the accord could set the foundations for a sustainable peace in territories most affected by the conflict.

Negotiations

“In their perspective although it may have not been perfect, it was the best way to move forward in a department that has been disproportionately impacted by the armed conflict.”