Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it. The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations. But it needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force. Addressing the nation, President Santos said he accepted the result but would continue working to achieve peace.
The “yes” campaign had the backing not just of President Santos but of a wide array of politicians both in Colombia and abroad, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But there was also a vocal campaign for a “no” vote, led by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Polls conducted ahead of Sunday’s vote suggested a comfortable win for the “yes” campaign. But in a surprise result, 50.2% of voters rejected the agreement compared with 49.8% who voted for it. The difference with 98.98% of the votes counted was less than 54,000 votes out of almost 13 million ballots. Turnout was low with fewer than 38% of voters casting their votes.