FARC Peace Deal Faces Uncertainty After Conservative Leader Wins Colombian Presidency
On Sunday, populist conservative politician Ivan Duque won Colombia’s run-off after securing 54 percent of the vote, beating his leftist contender and former Bogota mayor, Gustavo Petro. Petro earned 41.8 percent of the vote.
The 42-year-old Duque took 39 percent in the country’s first round of the election on May 27, forcing him to face Petro in the run-off as none of the candidates won 50 percent of the vote. Duque once worked as an adviser for former president Alvaro Uribe Valez. Duque will be inaugurated on August 7 and be the youngest president in Colombian history, succeeding Juan Manuel Santos, who has been in office for two consecutive periods.
The election was the first since Bogota signed a peace deal with the leading rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC in 2016.
What does Duque’s victory mean to the peace deal with FARC?
During the campaign, Duque repeatedly promised to alter the peace agreement with FARC. The accord guarantees former members of the rebel groups seats in the Congress and allows them to participate in the election.
Last year, FARC transformed into a political party. Most of the 7,000+ rebels have given up their weapons and started new lives.
The bloody five-decade-long conflict killed around 250,000 innocent civilians and displaced around six million Colombians. Duque wants a peace deal with justice provided to those who became the victims of the conflict.
“That peace we long for – that demands corrections – will have corrections, so that the victims are the center of the process, to guarantee truth, justice, and reparation,” Duque said.
Duque slammed the current deal as too lenient since many ex-guerrilla members skip imprisonment.
“I am a victim of the FARC, I suffered violence in Antioquia. Law and order is the most important,” Andres Felipe Londono, an economist, told The Telegraph.
Before the signing of the peace accord in November 2016, many Colombians opposed the draft in a referendum, saying the bill was too lenient on FARC, branded by the U.S as a terrorist group.
Despite the changes, Uribe, Duque’s political mentor, still considered the altered points “cosmetics”.
But, many Colombians are unsure whether Duque will be brave enough to overhaul the entire peace deal. There is no specific policy regarding the peace deal in his campaign document on his website. The word “peace”only appears twice in the 203 propositions listed.
Reaction from ex-FARC members
FARC called on Duque to show “good sense” toward the peace deal, hoping to meet with the president-elect soon.
“What the country demands is an integral peace, which will lead us to the hoped-for reconciliation,” FARC said in a statement.