Colombia, FARC to sign landmark peace deal September 26

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Commander Rodrigo Londono will sign a historic peace agreement in a September 26 ceremony in Cartagena, Santos announced Friday.

After nearly four years of talks, the peace accord between Colombia's government and the country's largest Marxist guerrilla group was finalized August 24.

But the deal must be approved by voters before it can be implemented, in a binding referendum October 2.

Approval of the deal is looking more likely with a new opinion poll published Friday in which a strong majority of respondents say they support the peace deal.

The survey conducted for Colombian news outlets Radio Caracol and Red + Noticias showed growing support for the agreement.

Among likely voters, 62 per cent said they would support the peace deal in the October 2 vote. Another 28 per cent said they would not, while 10 per cent were undecided.

Another poll published August 26 by the daily El Tiempo showed "yes" votes with an 11-point lead over "no."

Both polls indicate increased support for the deal since it was announced, when polls had shown the electorate narrowly split.

As many as half of the 34 million potential voters still plan to abstain from the vote, according to surveys.

If ratified by voters, the peace accord would spell the end of FARC as an armed group and a significant reduction in the conflict, which began in 1964.

The agreement includes rural reforms, joint action against drug trafficking, political participation by demobilized guerrillas and the creation of a transitional justice system.

Colombia has for decades been riven by internal conflict as FARC and other left-wing rebels have battled military, police and right-wing paramilitaries.

More than 220,000 people have been killed and millions forced to flee parts of the country consumed by war. The government counts more than 7.6 million Colombians as direct and indirect victims of the conflict, and more landmine victims than any country but Afghanistan.

Last update: Sat, 03/09/2016 - 01:46

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