Colombia peace vote: FARC to pay reparations to war victims

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colombia peace deal farc romo pkg_00000621

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Story highlights

  • Colombia's referendum will decide if FARC conflict ends
  • At least 13% of Colombia's registered voters must vote in favor of measure

(CNN)Hours before Colombia's polls open for a vote on whether to ratify the historic FARC peace deal, the Marxist guerrilla group announced it would pay reparations to victims of Latin America's longest-running armed conflict.

Last week, the Colombian government and the rebel group signed a peace treaty to end the 52-year conflict that had rattled the region. The historic deal, which came with a major apology from the rebel group to "all the victims of the conflict," now awaits approval from Colombian voters.

    Yes or no?

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    Colombians will vote Sunday for a referendum in which they must answer "yes" or "no" regarding a single question: "Do you support the final accord to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?"
    An approved ballot measure would allow the government to formally end a conflict that has led to more than 220,000 deaths and displaced 5 million people over the life of the conflict. It would also begin the FARC's formal tradition from Marxist rebel group into a left-wing political party with 10 political seats.

    Case for reparations

    Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos signs the peace agreement between Colombia's government and the FARC, to end over 50 years of conflict, in Cartagena, Colombia, Monday, September 26.
    As part of the deal, thousands of FARC fighters would leave the jungle and head to U.N.-sponsored camps where they would be expected to give up their weapons. Fighters who confess to war crimes will avoid jail time. They would instead face up to eight years of undefined "effective restrictions of liberty."
    In addition, FARC leaders said in a statement Saturday that they would begin to declare to the government its "monetary and non-monetary resources" that had shaped its wartime economy.
    The announcement comes as a stark reversal from the rebel group's earlier insistence that it did not have the money to pay for reparations. It's unclear how much each victim would be paid.

    Will there be enough turnout?

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    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the news of the reparations via Twitter.
    "As a result of the [peace] agreement, the FARC pledge to hand over resources to compensate the victims," he tweeted.
    Earlier in the peace deal talks, FARC leaders had said they wouldn't be able to pay reparations because their money had gone to fund their war effort. Now the guerrillas' assets will be declared during the six-month disarmament period established in the peace accord should voters approve the measure.
    FARC leaders are hoping that's enough incentive to get more than 4 million Colombians to the polls today. In order for the measure to pass, at least 13% of the country's registered voters must say "yes" to the ballot question.