Bogotá, Colombia (AP) – President Juan Manuel Santos took the oath for his second term Thursday and promised to redouble his efforts to end Colombia's half-century war amid a renewed wave of rebel violence that has put peace talks at risk.
Santos, a 62-year-old economist, narrowly defeated a conservative challenger to win another four-year term by framing their June runoff as a choice between war and peace.
"I will employ all of my energies to fulfill this mandate for peace," Santos, wearing a dove pin on his lapel, said in a closely watched 45-minute speech.
Analysts agree that the negotiations launched in 2012 in Cuba offer the best chance in decades for striking a deal to end the bloody conflict, which has killed more than 200,000 people, the majority of them civilians.
Still, a number of obstacles remain, including frustration over the guerrillas' refusal to halt attacks and fierce opposition by former President Alvaro Uribe, who was recently elected to the Senate with a record number of votes.
Santos in his inaugural speech didn't outline any initiatives or suggest ways around the thorny issues likely to dominate the final stages of talks, such as how to grant political rights to senior rebel commanders accused of violating international humanitarian law and wanted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges.
Instead, he repeated a warning that the talks could fall apart if the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia continue to carry out attacks as they have in recent weeks.
"The patience of Colombia and the international community isn't infinite," Santos said.
As if to emphasize how difficult the road to peace remains, the Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that rebels who have committed atrocious war crimes won't be allowed to hold office after handing over their weapons.
Thursday's inauguration was attended by heads of state from across Latin America as well as former King Juan Carlos of Spain, making his first official trip abroad since abdicating in favor of his son, Prince Felipe.
There was one notable absence: Uribe, who helped elect Santos four years ago, skipped the ceremony along with allied lawmakers to protest what he contends was Santos' abuse of power to get re-elected and the scheduled presence of Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolás Maduro. However, Maduro cancelled at the last minute.