Ban sends UN Colombia envoy to Havana after peace deal rejected

GENEVA, Switzerland (UPDATED) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday, October 3, he had "urgently" sent his Colombia envoy to Havana for talks after a peace deal with communist FARC rebels suffered a shock referendum defeat

"I have seen the results of yesterday's plebiscite. We would have hoped for a different result," the United Nations secretary general told reporters in Geneva. 

But Ban said he was "encouraged" by the commitment to ending Colombia's half-century civil war demonstrated by the country's President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC chief Roderigo Londono. 

"To support them, I have urgently dispatched my special representative Mr. Jean Arnault to Havana to continue his consultations," Ban added. 

The peace pact was negotiated in the Cuban capital Havana. 

Ban named Arnault as his top Colombia envoy in March, in an effort to help seal a historic deal after four years of talks. 

But Colombians rejected the accord by a razor thin margin -- 50.21 percent to 49.78 percent against the truce -- throwing the country's future into uncertainty. 

A slim majority of voters were said to be resentful of the bloodshed by the leftist guerrillas and the immunity the accord offers many of them from prosecution.

Leaders on both sides have said they remain committed to peace.

Ban hailed "the profound desire of the Colombian people to end the violence". 

"I count on them to press ahead until they achieve secure and lasting peace," he added.  –