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Where now for Colombia's peace process after Santos Nobel prize?

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By Robert Hackwill
Where now for Colombia's peace process after Santos Nobel prize?

An end to more than half a century of bloodshed appeared so close last weekend when Colombians went to the polls in a referendum.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos was asking the people to approve a peace deal it had hammered out with the FARC guerillas.

It included an amnesty for commanders and guaranteed seats in Congress, plus aid for fighters to resettle and live normal lives. But after some 200,000 deaths and years of civil war many were not ready to forgive and forget.

The result was a surprise and casts doubt on whether or not there will be a resumption of violence.

“What we have signed today goes beyond a simple agreement between a government and guerrillas ending a conflict. What we have signed today is a declaration by the Colombian people before the world saying that we are tired of war and that we do not accept any more violence as a means to defend ideas. We say loud and clear, no more war!” said Santos after reaching agreement with the FARC in August.

The government’s ceasefire has been extended to the end of October to give crisis talks in Havana, including the leader of the ‘No’ campaign, former president Alvaro Uribe, a chance to succeed.

Uribe and the ‘No’ voters have been criticised for their mainly urban supporters’ seeming lack of sympathy for rural populations which have borne the brunt of the years of war.

Nearly seven million people have been displaced in the 52-year conflict in poor rural and border areas, which voted overwhelmingly for the peace deal.