World Bulletin / News Desk
The cease-fire had been set to expire at the end of the month after Colombians rejected a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a referendum vote held Oct. 2.
“This is not an ultimatum nor a deadline, but I hope that this is all that the process needs so that a new accord is reached and signed off long beforehand,” Santos told the nation Thursday night during a televised address.
Since the stunning defeat of the deal by just 60,000 votes in which less than 40 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, Santos has been meeting with representatives on both sides of the issue, including youth leaders who have organized massive peace rallies across the country.
“This afternoon I met with some of the student leaders organizing the marches who are demanding the right to live in peace,” he said. “And of course they were right when they said to me, ‘We are neither yes or no, we are society and peace is for society and peace is for all.’”
The cease-fire was due to end Oct. 31 and could have put in danger the peace agreement signed Sept. 26 with the FARC. It is now hoped that with the extension, the “No” campaign led by former President Alvaro Uribe will agree to various issues including, impunity of guerrillas and the extent of the FARC’s political participation.
“No. I will not betray Colombia’s hope,” Santos said in a speech to the International Development Bank in Bogotá on Thursday.
Colombia has been in the grip of an uncertain future since the referendum vote and fears of a renewed conflict are running high. The result was seen as a failure of the Colombian government to reverse citizens’ widespread distrust of the FARC.
A FARC spokesperson and member of the group’s negotiating team spoke Thursday from Havana where the Colombian government and the rebels are trying to rework the deal. “We must move beyond this uncertain situation. To this end we reaffirm that the delay created by the ‘No’ side is to bring down the peace process, but the Colombian people do not want this,” Ivan Marquez told the BBC.
The peace deal would have brought an end to the 52-year war in the country.
Talks on the deal began in Cuba in November 2011 and ran for almost four years before an agreement was reached in August.