Thursday, 21 November 2013 09:53
BOGOTA: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday announced in an address to the nation that he will seek re-election next year.
"When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you do not turn around and run the other way," the president said, referring to a peace process with FARC guerrillas that is making strides but is not yet a done deal.
"I am convinced that we have before us a great chance to achieve a Colombia that is at peace," he said. "And my duty as president ... is not to allow everything that we have achieved in the peace process to be lost."
As such Santos, a 62-year-old conservative, said he would seek a second term which would run from 2014-2018, giving him the chance to help shepherd a peace deal into reality.
The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been in peace talks in Havana for a year.
The talks are set to resume November 28, after a 10-day postponement.
The talks had been scheduled to resume Monday to take on the third agenda item, illegal drug trafficking, which the FARC is alleged to have abetted to finance their operations.
So far -- the talks began on November 19, 2012 -- the negotiations have resolved two of the five key points on the agenda.
The two sides must also still resolve questions on compensation for victims and on disarmament.
The half-century old guerrilla war -- Latin America's longest-running insurgency -- has left hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced more than 4.5 million people.
The Marxist-inspired FARC has some 7,000 to 8,000 fighters, Colombia's largest rebel group.
Santos won the presidency with the support of his predecessor Alvaro Uribe. Now, Uribe has become one of his staunchest critics, and opponent of the peace talks.
Santos's current term ends August 7, 2014. The first round of the presidential vote is in May 2014.
Colombia in 2005 reformed the constitution to allow re-election. Uribe was among the first to benefit from the chance and served two terms.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013