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Colombians would approve peace accord in plebiscite -report

by Reuters
Friday, 2 September 2016 14:00 GMT

Members of the 51st Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) listen to a lecture on the peace process between the Colombian government and their force at a camp in Cordillera Oriental, Colombia, August 16, 2016. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

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Under the accord, FARC leaders accused of crimes will serve alternative punishments including clearing land mines in order to be cleared for political participation

BOGOTA, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Colombians would vote in favor of a peace deal between the government and Marxist FARC rebels even as the nation remains deeply divided over the agreement, local media reported on Friday, citing a poll.

After almost four years of complicated talks in Havana, the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed last week to end a five-decade war that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions.

A poll by Cifras y Conceptos, the first since the agreement was reached, showed that 62 percent of Colombians who decide to participate in the plebiscite would vote in favor of the deal, local radio station Caracol reported on Friday.

The poll says 28 percent would vote against and 10 percent are still undecided, Caracol reported. Reuters did not immediately have access to the poll.

Colombians will decide during a plebiscite on Oct. 2 whether they approve of the accord.

Voters will be asked to respond yes or no to a single question: "Do you support the accord that puts an end to armed conflict and constructs a stable and durable nation?"

Some 4.5 million votes need to be cast for a yes or no win.

The question has been criticized by opposition legislators for being too one-sided toward a yes vote.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who has staked his legacy on peace, has launched a campaign to convince Colombians to back the accord. But he faces fierce opposition from powerful sectors of the country - including popular right-wing hardliner Alvaro Uribe - who believe the only solution is to finish the FARC militarily.

Still, while many are upset with the terms of the agreement, they see it as the only way to end the conflict.

Under the 297-page accord, FARC leaders accused of crimes will serve alternative punishments including clearing land mines in order to be cleared for political participation.

The 7,000-strong rebel group will also be given non-voting congressional representation until 2018 and from then until 2026 receive 10 voting seats whether they have electoral support or not.

The poll of 2,305 people was conducted between Aug. 26 and 31 in 35 cities and towns across the nation and had a margin or error of 2.2 percent. (Reporting by Helen Murphy, Luis Jaime Acosta and Nelson Bocanegra; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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