Colombia court decision likely to slow approval of peace laws

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2017 12:30 PM

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's Constitutional Court has struck down two provisions meant to speed approval of laws on the government's peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels, a move that will likely extend congressional debate on the accord.

The decision, announced late on Wednesday, was made after the right-wing Democratic Center party, which opposes the peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, sued over parts of a broad peace law already approved by Congress.

The ruling requires more than one round of congressional voting on accord-related laws and will likely draw out debate on pending laws about rural reform and political participation for the FARC which are opposed by the Democratic Center.

Delays may spark complaints about government slowness from the rebels, who are in special camps handing over their weapons.

However, President Juan Manuel Santos' coalition has a majority in Congress and the laws still look set to be approved.

The ruling will add "legitimacy" to the laws, Luis Guillermo Guerrero, the head of the court, told journalists on Thursday.

Many laws related to the accord have already been approved, including one to give amnesty to the majority of FARC fighters. The ruling will not affect those laws.

"The implementation of the peace deal and the advances in Congress to support it are not at risk," Alfonso Prada, the president's general secretary, said on Thursday.

Prada said he spoke to Santos, who is visiting United States President Donald Trump in Washington, about the ruling early on Thursday.

"We have confidence that Congress will continue processing the laws to implement the peace accord," Prada said.

FARC leader and former peace negotiator Ivan Marquez said on Twitter that the rebels "are confident the president will use the powers given to him by the Constitution to move this peace process forward."

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, Luis Jaime Acosta and Carlos Vargas; editing by Grant McCool)