Colombian rebels face deadline for peace deal



AFP

Published — Tuesday 4 December 2012

Last update 4 December 2012 3:15 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BOGOTA: Colombian leftist rebels faced yesterday a new deadline for striking a peace deal with the government after President Juan Manuel Santos warned they have less than a year to reach a negotiated end to Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.
The warning on peace talks came after the Colombian military launched a new operation against the FARC rebels at the weekend, in which it said at least 20 rebels were killed.
“This has to be a process of months, rather than years. In other words, this should not last any longer than November next year at the latest,” the president said at an event in the Caribbean resort city of Cartagena.
“But it is important to be patient, and not demand immediate results, because... some very complicated issues are being discussed.”
However, Santos did not specify what will happen if the newly-imposed deadline is not met.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s longest running insurgency, started talks formally with Bogota on Oct. 18 in neutral Norway. The talks moved to Havana on Nov. 19 and will resume this week.
It is a conflict that has dragged on for almost a half century, with some 600,000 dead, 15,000 missing and four million people domestically displaced.
Last Thursday, Colombian government and rebel negotiators reported progress in the first peace talks in a decade.
On the delicate process of the FARC making a transition to a civilian political force, Santos said his government would agree to them trading bullets for ballots as long as they were not “politicking with their firearms.”
“If the FARC indeed wants to end the conflict and move from bullets to the ballot box, take part in politics and seek to achieve goals in democratic processes, they will find the government most willing and cooperative,” he said.
“But if what they are seeking is once again to put their revolution by decree on the table, over there in Cuba, and change the constitution and the country and its public policy, there won’t be any peace there,” he warned.
Talks are to resume on Wednesday, and will continue to focus on land reform, the first point on the agenda, the parties said in a joint statement.
In the meantime, the army said the FARC had suffered at least 20 dead after the military launched early Saturday bombing strikes against three of their camps in Narino province, near the border with Ecuador.
According to General Leonardo Barrero, a local military commander, the guerrillas belonged to the mobile Marshal Sucre column who had set up a base in the area.
Previous attempts at peace have failed. In the last effort, which lasted from 1999 to 2002, the government ended talks after concluding the FARC were using a vast demilitarized zone to regroup.
The FARC — founded in 1964 and believed to have some 9,000 armed fighters — took up arms to protest against the concentration of land ownership in Colombia.
The rebels have suffered a string of military defeats in recent years, and several of their top commanders have been captured or killed. FARC ranks have also been severely depleted from its peak in the 1990s.
Ivan Marquez, the FARC’s number two negotiator, has said an agreement reached to hold a public forum in Bogota next month on agrarian development — unequal land distribution is a longstanding problem at the root of the conflict — was the best sign the process is moving forward.
Aside from reaching a deal on land ownership, both sides must also agree on a mechanism to end hostilities, incorporating the FARC into political life, curbing drug trafficking, and on compensating victims of the conflict.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

Huge projects change the faces of cities and great ambitions help create such projects. Madinah had its date with a quantum leap to usher in a new era of urban development. Such huge projects help achieve formidable civilization advancements and sign...
RIYADH: The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, Noriheiro Okoda, has held a meeting with Hashem Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), and discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of atom...
AL-BAHA: Forty three percent of Al-Baha cannot be developed easily because of the region’s mountainous terrain.This is the view of Khaled Al-Sayegh, undersecretary for construction at the municipality, who was speaking at an event held at the College...
JEDDAH: An official at the Council of Saudi Chambers said the council’s members are discussing a regulation to submit to the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to deny a number of privileges to companies that force its labor to work unde...
ABHA: With many families wanting new furniture during Ramadan, furniture and interior decorating shops are raising prices to more than double what they were before the month.Homeowner Zaina Mohammed says she used to change her home furniture every Ra...
RIYADH: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman described the first visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Madinah as “historic.”In his comments following the visit which saw th...
MADINAH: Economists expected the volume of investments in Madinah’s economies during the coming few years to reach SR500 billion.The forecasted growth in the population, to reach 2.6 million people after 25 years, and the number of visitors to 12.2 m...
JEDDAH: It seems that many Saudi families are gradually coming to terms with the new reality of living in apartments, as building villas is not possible due to shortage of appropriate land.With the increasing display of housing units by the Ministry...
RIYADH: Migrant rights advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) has lambasted their country’s leadership over the claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are declining due to sustained economic growth in the Philippines.The group has cal...
RIYADH: A charitable foundation called “Smile” will be launched on Sunday night at the Al-Hokair Land in the Saudi capital to make people happy. “The foundation will be launched to make Saudi Arabia a center of smiles,” well-known television host and...
MAKKAH: The Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims to around 6 million from 1.5 million in the last 16 years. Moreover, the number of pilgrims overstaying their visas has come down to about 1 percent. The Ministry of Haj has be...
RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) said here recently that it has financed small enterprises (SMEs) run by 130 widows in some of the Kingdom’s provinces.KKF hosted an iftar party last week for local media at its headquarters in Riyadh at which...
JEDDAH: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of the Northern Borders province, has died.He will be buried after Taraweeh prayers in Jeddah on Saturday, the Royal Court said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. No other det...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has suspended all parallel education programs, except in medical and engineering specialties, as well as bridging programs for health diploma certificates.Education Minister Azzam Al-Dhakil gave directions to the rec...
RIYADH: The Cooperative Health Insurance Council said it had suspended operations of six medical insurance companies for violating health insurance regulations by issuing insurance policies without completing the required documentation and violating...

Stay Connected

Facebook