Colombia announces bilateral ceasefire with FARC

Colombian president announces bilateral truce with FARC rebels after three-year-long peace talks to end conflict

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos delivers a speech during a televised address to the nation at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia.

Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos announced on Wednesday a bilateral ceasefire with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels beginning on January 1, 2016, bringing the three-year-long peace talks to a turning point.

Santos said "Let's make an effort so that by December 31 we can finish the agenda point on the end of the conflict and be able to declare a bilateral, internationally monitored ceasefire from January 1," in a public address from the presidential palace. 

The Colombian government and FARC leaders have been discussing a five-point agenda. Only one point, disarmament and demobilization is left to be agreed on, as the four others have been resolved since the negotiations started in the Cuban capital Havana on November 2012.

"From now until December 31, we will make the effort so that for example we could finish point five," Santos said.

"And that way declare a bilateral and internationally verifiable ceasefire from January 1."

Santos and the leader of leftist FARC, Rodrigo Londono shook hands on September 23, agreeing to reach a final peace deal on March 23, 2016.

Cuban President Raul Castro embraces Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC Timoleon Jimenez in Havana, Cuba on September 23

FARC rebels have been observing an unilateral truce since July 20, but the government had continued its ground operation, arguing that the truce might be used by the group for rearmament.

Although an estimated 220,000 people have lost their lives in the 51-year-long conflict, the Bogota-based Conflict Analysis Resource Center says the violence has been softening since the group declared truce.

However, FARC is not the only rebel group in Colombia. Its rival, National liberation Army (ELN) is also active in the country, as it recently killed 12 Colombian troops who were transporting the results of local elections which were held on Sunday.

The ELN rebels also met with government officials for a peace process, but refuse to come to the negotiation table with the FARC rebels.

TRTWorld and agencies