Colombia's government has signed a revised peace agreement with the armed group FARC aiming to end half a century of hostilities, almost two months after the rejection of the original deal in a referendum.
Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londono signed an earlier version of the deal in a triumphant ceremony with worldwide leaders on September 27. An original accord ending the half century conflict was rejected by voters in a referendum last month.
"It will be Colombians who support or reject it with a vote", said 65-year-old Santos.The understated signing in the 131-year-old Teatro Colon before mostly government and local dignitaries was a far cry from the fanfare celebration in September, where the coastal city of Cartagena hosted world leaders. This time round, it won't risk running the deal by the public. The FARC, which began as a rebellion fighting rural poverty, has battled a dozen governments as well as right-wing paramilitary groups.An end to the war with the FARC is unlikely to end violence in Colombia as the lucrative cocaine business has given rise to criminal gangs and traffickers.
But Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had said from the start of the negotiations that he wanted the Colombian people to have a say in the peace process.
He tried to inject a dose of optimism about the hobbled accord whose outlook for implementation is shrouded in uncertainty.
For his part, rebel leader Londono declared, "the word should be the only weapon in Colombia", adding that the new dea; took into account "the concerns made by many sectors" of the society.
The new agrrement introduces some 50 changes meant to assuage critics led by still-powerful former President Alvaro Uribe.
They include a commitment from the insurgents to forfeit assets, some of them amassed through drug trafficking, to help compensate their victims.
Uribe has insisted, for instance, that FARC leaders should not be allowed to run for office while still serving sentences for atrocities. They're also threatening to call for street protests to denounce what they say is a "blow against democracy".
The lack of broad support for the accord will make the already-steep challenge of implementing it even tougher. "Instead, President Santos said, the government will introduce it in congress and it will probably be approved there".
Congress is likely to adopt a "fast track" method to ratify the modified peace agreement, starting the countdown towards FARC demobilization, according to Sandra Borda, the dean of the Social Sciences Department at Bogota's Jorge Tadeo Lozano University.