Updated 10:23 PM EST, Mon, Nov 23, 2020

UK Diplomat Jonathan Powell Approves FARC's Proposed Peace Deal

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Jonathan Powell, the UK diplomat who participated in the peace talks in Havana, Cuba, said on Sunday via TeleSur that the Colombian rebels FARC's (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) proposal to submit a peace deal to a referendum was "the most legitimate."

Current president Juan Manuel Santos rejected the option, wanting to have a legislative debate instead.

Powell, however, said that a plebiscite is undeniably better, adding, "How else could we demonstrate popular support?"

However, Powell, who has previously signed the peace agreement with the Irish Republican Army fighters under the administration of Tony Blair, does agree to some of Santos's terms. Of the current peace talks, he praised the agreement that was reached on transitional justice, agreeing with Santos that it has created a precedent in the world. "The government had to balance its duty of satisfying the victims' rights, and of preventing more victims with the conflict's end."

Powell mentioned that he's confident that a peace agreement could be reached in the next few months, praising the reform that the government has led to implement the deal. This legislative initiative could avoid a scenario like the one he witnessed in 1994, when the IRA rebels ended the peace process.

The UK diplomat stressed the importance of trust in talks, explaining with anecdotes referring to the IRA negotiations. However, he did acknowledge that to reach an agreement, both sides -- the FARC and the Colombian Government alike -- will have to justify the deals with their supporters, putting pressure to achieve demands on both sides.

Santos announced on Friday a call for extraordinary sessions in Congress, as noted by The Jerusalem Post, in order to disarm the FARC. He said in Cartagena, I will call for extra sessions in Congress to approve a change in the law, in order to allow the President, that today has no such legal power, to initiate the procedures to disarm the FARC in the negotiated sites."

The Colombian government and the FARC rebels agreed in September that the guerilla group would lay down arms within 60 days of signing the peace deal in Havana, where they have been doing their talks. The official deadline is set for March 23, 2016.

If the peace deal gets by the government and the rebel group, it will be the end of the war that has ravaged the South American nation for over fifty years, leaving in its wake over 220,000 deaths and millions more displaced.

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