Tags: Colombia | conflict | rebels | talks | vote

Colombia, Rebels Appeal for Support for Peace Process

Tuesday, 03 June 2014 02:58 PM

Colombia's government and communist rebels called on the public Tuesday to support a peace process that is under challenge in the country's closely contested presidential elections.

The government's chief negotiator and his rebel counterpart made the appeals as President Juan Manuel Santos' running mate accused police officers of campaigning for his rival, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a vehement opponent of the negotiations in the Cuban capital of Havana.

Santos, who has staked his presidency on the bid to end Latin America's oldest guerrilla war, is running neck and neck with Zuluaga, who took the lead in a first round upset May 25. The run-off is June 15.

Humberto de la Calle, a former vice president who leads the government peace delegation, addressed Colombian soldiers and police in his remarks from Havana, urging them to ignore what he said was an opposition disinformation campaign.

"I ask you not to allow yourself to be confused amid so many lies, so many fallacies," he said.

"Neither your salary, nor your future, even less your doctrine, has been or will be negotiated here," he said.

Ivan Marquez, the top negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia known by their Spanish initials FARC, had a similar message.

"All Colombians must defend the peace process," he said. "The time has come to end this conflict."

In Bogota, Santos' running-mate German Vargas accused members of the National Police of campaigning for Zuluaga.

The head of the force, General Rodolfo Palomino, reminded police that they were barred under the constitution from participating in politics, warning they could be fired for doing so.

The talks to end the FARC's 50-year-old insurgency have been underway since November 2012.

Santos has said he hopes to accelerate the process, but with fewer than two weeks to go, its future will depend on the outcome of the elections.

Zuluaga has said there can only be a peace if the FARC declares a permanent ceasefire and its leaders go to jail.

The current round of talks is expected to last only about two days, rather than the usual 11.

Several key issues remain unresolved: the surrender of weapons by the FARC, compensation for victims of the conflict, and the adoption of a comprehensive peace agreement in law.

Colombian police meanwhile said that four of its officers were killed and one wounded by a bomb attack in the northeastern department of Arauca attributed to another guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army or ELN.

The ELN is the country's second largest rebel group after the FARC, which has an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 fighters.


© AFP 2021

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Colombia's government and communist rebels called on the public Tuesday to support a peace process that is under challenge in the country's closely contested presidential elections.
Colombia, conflict, rebels, talks, vote
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 02:58 PM
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