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Colombian Senate unanimously endorses new FARC peace deal

By Andrew V. Pestano
Colombian Senate unanimously endorses new FARC peace deal
The Colombian Senate, seen here during session on Tuesday, voted to endorse the most recent peace agreement struck between the government and the FARC rebel group with unanimous support. An initial peace deal was rejected through a referendum in October and the most recent version was rejected by the hard-line opposition to a peace deal as a "mere retouch." Photo courtesy of Colombian Senate

BOGOTA, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Colombian Senate announced it unanimously voted to endorse the most recent peace agreement between the government and the FARC rebel group.

The Senate's approval comes about a week after the hard-line opposition to a FARC peace deal -- known as the "No" campaign -- rejected the latest version of the agreement. No senators opposed the deal.

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"With 75 votes in favor, the Senate endorsed the peace accord between the national government and the FARC guerilla group, after four years of talks in Havana, Cuba," the Senate said in a statement on Tuesday. "The approval came after a debate that lasted more than 13 hours, in which all political sectors, leaders of the 'No' and 'Yes,' civil, social, victims, and youth organizations were heard."

More than 220,000 people have died and 5 million have been internally displaced due to the Colombian conflict since FARC's founding in 1964 as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group. FARC, known officially as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activity to fund its insurgency.

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"It was a historic day, where the Congress of the Republic debated the most important issue for Colombia, the endorsement of peace," Mauricio Lizcano Arango, president of the Colombian Senate, said in a statement.

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The "No" camp, led by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, said the new agreement, over which negotiations began after the initial peace deal was rejected in a 50.2 percent vote in early October, was "merely a retouch" of the rejected deal.

The new peace agreement will move to Colombia's Chamber of Representatives for approval.

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