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BOGOTA – The Colombian government has passed a law to allow the holding of a popular referendum on a possible peace agreement with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group on the same day as elections in the country, officials said.

Although the referendum mechanisms have not yet been agreed by the two negotiating parties, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said on several occasions that the country should have a law that allows for such a step if talks taking place in Cuba result in a peace agreement ending half a century of armed conflict.

Officials said Tuesday that according to the law, dated Dec. 26 and posted on the presidential website, constitutional referendums will coincide with the elections so that the citizens are able to give their stamp of approval to the “final agreement for the end of the conflict” on the same day they vote.

Colombia will go to polls next Oct. 25 in local elections to choose governors, mayors, regional legislators and town councilors.

The law could allow for a popular referendum on that day in case a peace agreement is signed between the Colombian government and FARC before that.

The two parties have already reached agreements on three points of the five point agenda: land reform, political participation and drug trafficking and are negotiating the other two points on the rights of victims and the disarmament of the rebels.

They are also negotiating the “implementation, verification and referendum” process of an eventual agreement, which may be put to popular vote as according to the new law approved by the government.

Latin American Herald Tribune