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Colombians March in Favor of Peace Deal

  • VOA News

A woman holds flowers as she attends a peace march in Bogota, Colombia, Oct. 12, 2016.

A woman holds flowers as she attends a peace march in Bogota, Colombia, Oct. 12, 2016.

Thousands of people flooded streets in cities across Colombia Wednesday to protest in favor of a peace deal between the government and a group of Marxist rebels who have been feuding for more than five decades.

The marches Wednesday mark the second mass gathering of Colombians in support of the peace deal that was signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but was later rejected by voters.

The protests come as 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner President Juan Manuel Santos has continued talks with opposition politicians and FARC representatives in an attempt to save the peace deal.

Voters narrowly rejected the deal 50.2 percent to 49.7, or by a margin of just 54,000 votes. The result came as a shock to Colombian leaders as public opinion polls leading up to the vote forecast the referendum would pass by a two-to-one margin.

Last week, Santos said he would extend a cease-fire agreement with the rebels until October 31, though expectations for a deal remain low because FARC leaders refuse to budge on the already-signed peace accord and opponents say the rebels need to accept tougher terms.

Many "no" voters were genuinely offended that nearly all FARC rebels will avoid prison time for crimes allegedly committed during the uprising and get various financial support from the government.

They are also upset that FARC would be guaranteed seats in the Colombian congress without an election in exchange for transforming FARC into a political party.

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