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Colombia spurns peace deal, ceasefire intact

03 Oct 2016 03:04 (+01:00 GMT)
Colombia spurns peace deal, ceasefire intact

Bogota, 3 October (Argus) — Colombian voters unexpectedly rejected a proposed peace agreement between the government and the main rebel group Farc in a plebiscite today. President Juan Manuel Santos said a bilateral ceasefire remains in effect.

The agreement had raised hopes in the oil industry that rebel attacks on oil pipelines and other infrastructure would wind down, with the smaller rebel group ELN eventually demobilizing as well. The victory of the "no" camp sows uncertainty instead.

Oil chamber ACP declined to comment, but oil companies may now revisit their short-term investment plans, which were already hit by a lower oil price, a trend that diminishes the odds of a rebound in production.

State-controlled Ecopetrol is Colombia´s largest oil producer, but many foreign independents have a significant presence, including Canadian firms Gran Tierra, Parex, Canacol and Pacific Exploration and Production, US independents Occidental, Anadarko and small counterpart Vetra, the UK´s Amerisur and Latin American independent GeoPark.

Most polls had indicated that a majority of Colombians would vote in favor of the historic accord. With more than 60pc abstention, a narrow majority voted no.

Prior to today's vote, Santos had said "there is no Plan B" should Colombians vote against it, and suggested that a "no" vote would signal a return to war.

In an address to the nation tonight, Santos said he was committed to making peace. "The bilateral ceasefire is still in effect and will remain in effect," said Santos, who has pinned his legacy on making peace after four years of negotiations with the Farc in Havana, Cuba. Santos said he will meet tomorrow with the main political powers including opposition groups to look for a way forward.

Farc leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, also known as Timochenko, said tonight that the group maintains a willingness to make peace. "Peace will triumph," he said.

With 99.7pc of votes counted this evening, 50.23pc of Colombians rejected the terms and conditions of the deal, compared with 49.77pc in favor.

Opponents of the agreement, led by outspoken former president Alvaro Uribe, said the deal was too lenient on the Farc for violent crimes committed over more than five decades of conflict, and offered the group too broad a political role.

"We want to contribute to a national pact," Uribe said tonight, reiterating his call for the government to listen to those who rejected the agreement.