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Daily Brief: Colombian Voters Reject Peace Deal

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October 3, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Colombian Voters Reject Peace Deal

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos summoned representatives from all the country's political parties for an emergency meeting Monday (Colombia Reports) after 50.2 percent of Colombians voted against accepting a landmark peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The agreement sought to end fifty-two years of civil war that left more than 200,000 dead and displaced millions. Santos and a FARC chief signed the accord last week after four years (BBC) of negotiations; the referendum, necessary for the deal to take force, was widely expected to go in favor of the agreement. Only 37 percent of eligible voters took part in the referendum (Guardian), which would have allowed rebels to lay down their arms and rejoin civilian life, receiving at most minimal prison sentences. Both Santos and a FARC chief said that they were committed to the cease-fire (NYT) despite the referendum's result.


"All the pieces were in place to begin implementation of a deal that was four years in the making after talks between government and Farc negotiators in Havana. The Farc had ratified the accord at a national conference, President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timochenko had signed it in a public ceremony and UN monitors were ready to oversee the bringing together and disarmament of the Farc’s 5,800 fighters. The Nobel committee was reportedly considering a peace prize for Colombia," Sibylla Brodzinsky writes for the Guardian.

"The result was a deep embarrassment for President Juan Manuel Santos. Just last week, Mr. Santos had joined arms with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or the FARC, who apologized on national television during a signing ceremony. The surprise surge by the 'no' vote — nearly all major polls had indicated resounding approval — left the country in a dazed uncertainty not seen since Britain voted in June to leave the European Union. And it left the future of rebels who had planned to rejoin Colombia as civilians — indeed, the future of the war itself, which both sides had declared over — unknown," Julia Symmes Cobb and Nicholas Casey write for the New York Times.

"Colombians are understandably wary of making too many concessions to FARC. The scars of war run deep. More than 220,000 soldiers, guerrillas and civilians have been killed in the fighting and nearly seven million expelled from their homes over the past half-century. There are also worries about whether the guerrillas will surrender all their weapons, with or without United Nations supervision. The Colombian government and society have good reason to be cautious; they have been down this road before. Negotiations in the late 1990s collapsed, setting back the prospect of peace by almost 20 years," former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso writes for the Globe and Mail.


New Zealand Aircraft in North Korea Prompts Probe

New Zealand's foreign affairs ministry said it is investigating (New Zealand Herald) how an aircraft from the country ended up in a government airshow in North Korea despite sanctions on exports. The aircraft, which has U.S. parts, was sold to a Chinese company (WaPo) and continues to be registered there.

CFR's Global Conflict tracker follows recent developments in the North Korea weapons crisis.

JAPAN: Cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel prize in medicine for research on how the human body's cells detoxify and then repair themselves, a process called autophagy (Guardian).


Taliban Launch Coordinated Assault on Kunduz

Taliban militants launched a coordinated assault from four directions around the northern Afghan city of Kunduz (Al Jazeera), which briefly fell under the militants' control last year. A NATO spokesman said it was ready to support local forces (Reuters) but that the city was not yet under significant enough attack.

Christopher D. Kolenda discusses gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan in this CFR interview.  

INDIA: A four-month amnesty from prosecution for tax avoidance led to $9.8 billion in assets being declared (FT). Authorities said they will charge a 45 percent penalty on the assets.


Saudi Arabia Switches From Islamic Calendar

Saudi Arabia announced it will pay (Middle East Eye) its workers according to the Gregorian calendar rather than the Islamic Hijri calendar, which is several days shorter. The move is part of cost-cutting measures as the world's biggest oil exporter faces low global oil prices.

CFR's Ray Takeyh discusses the future of Saudi Arabia and its welfare state in this article for National Review.  

SYRIA AND YEMEN: The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said it recorded seventy-seven attacks against its facilities or hospitals it supports in Yemen and Syria over the past year (AFP). The charity's president called the pace of attacks "unprecedented."


Deadly Ethiopia Stampede After Tear Gas Incident

The Ethiopian government declared a three-day mourning (Africa News) period after at least fifty-two people were killed (Al Jazeera) in the Oromia region when security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets on a religious festival that turned into an anti-government protest.

NIGERIA: Nigeria is suing oil giants Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and Italian firm Eni over allegations (WSJ) the companies illegally exported $12.7 billion in crude to the United States between 2011 and 2014. 


Low Turnout Voids Hungary's Anti-Migration Vote

Only 40 percent of Hungarians voted in a referendum to reject EU mandatory migrant quotas (EU Observer), below the 50 percent needed for the result to be validated. Some 98 percent of voters voted in favor of rejecting EU quotas.

TURKEY: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused (Guardian)  the European Union of not wanting to comply with an agreement made in March to stem the tide of refugees arriving on European shores. Erdogan referred to the stipulation in the deal that said Turkish nationals would be granted visa-free access to Europe and also accused (AFP) the bloc of paying only a fraction of the $3.4 billion in aid promised.


Brazilian Mayoral Elections Favor Opposition Candidates

Voters in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro rebuked (AP) both the Workers' Party of impeached President Dilma Rousseff and the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of onetime Rousseff ally-turned impeachment proponent President Michel Temer. A center-right businessman won the mayoral race in São Paulo, while the Rio de Janeiro race will go to a runoff between an Evangelical pastor and human rights activist.

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses Brazil's political instability and economic outlook after Rousseff's impeachment in this CFR event.

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