BOGOTA/HAVANA, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), promised Sunday that the ceasefire between both parties would remain in place.
The pledge came after more than half of Colombian voters chose to reject a peace deal between the government and the FARC in a referendum on Sunday.
"I am the first to recognize this result where one half of the country said Yes and the other half of the country said No," Santos said in a televised address, while pledging that "the bilateral and definitive ceasefire and end of hostilities remain in place and will remain in place."
He also promised to respect both views expressed in the vote and called for a dialogue between those who oppose the peace agreement and those who support it.
"Tomorrow, I will call all political forces, especially those who campaigned for No, to listen to them and open spaces of dialogue to determine the path to follow. We will decide between us which path to take in order to make peace possible," Santos said.
In a short statement to the press, Jimenez said in the Cuban capital of Havana that today's results are a victory for those who have always bet on war and bloodshed in Colombia.
"The FARC guerrillas maintain their will to work for peace in Colombia and will use words as the only weapon to decide the future of our nation," said Jimenez.
Jimenez, who earlier this week signed the deal with Santos, said he was sorry about the result that has plunged the peace process into doubt.
"With today's result we now have a bigger challenge as a political movement and we will have to be stronger to build lasting peace," he said.
Members of the guerrilla group said they will talk about further steps in the coming days and hope to meet a delegation of the Colombian government sent by Santos.
Weeks of polling had shown the Yes camp would win by an almost two-to-one margin. But with almost all the votes counted, 50.2 percent of Colombians who voted Sunday opposed the deal and 49.8 percent favored it, according to the National Civil Registry's website.
The result is a heavy blow to the Colombian government led by Santos and the FARC, who reached a peace treaty in August after four years of negotiations.
The 52-year conflict in Colombia has left 220,000 people dead, 25,000 missing and more than 5.7 million homeless in the country.