The Colombian government and the Farc rebel force have reached agreement on a peace deal to end more than half a century of bloodshed.
Representatives of the two sides announced in Havana on Wednesday that a historic agreement had been arrived at after four years of peace talks in the Cuban capital.
“The Colombian government and the Farc announce that we have reached a final, full and definitive accord… on the end of the conflict and the building of a stable and enduring peace in Colombia,” they said in a joint statement.
The final deal comes two months after the sides signed a definitive ceasefire to halt a conflict which has killed at least 220,000 people, mostly civilians, according to a 2013 report by a commission set up by President Juan Manuel Santos’s government.
While leaders of the Farc will now travel to the revolutionary organisation’s camps in Colombia to convince commanders to lay down their weapons, President Santos is set to call a referendum asking all Colombians to endorse the peace accord.
After a week of intense final negotiations in which the teams worked 18-hour sessions without leaving their building in Havana, the first signs of a success began to emerge on Tuesday night.
Colombia’s presidential office released photographs of negotiators looking relaxed around tables covered in coffee cups and water bottles, while Farc leader Timoleón Jiménez, alias Timochenko, tweeted the message: We are on the verge of important announcements that will bring us closer to the final agreement.
The final issues on the table this week were reportedly the exact terms of an amnesty for Farc members and the reinsertion of rebel troops into civilian life and political participation.
The talks brokered by Cuba and Norway had previously yielded agreements in a number of different aspects of Colombia’s future, such as land reform, justice for victims of the conflict, and a united front against drug trafficking.
Besides the complexity of the issues on the table and the failure of previous attempts at a negotiated settlement, the peace process faced several major challenges, including opposition to negotiations with the Farc by President Santos’s electoral rival in 2014. Óscar Iván Zuluaga won the first round, but Mr Santos was re-elected by a narrow margin in the second round.
The fact that the two sides decided to hold talks without a suspension in hostilities also provided hairy moments, notably a Farc ambush which killed 11 Colombian soldiers in March 2015. President Santos lifted a freeze on bombardments of Farc camps, leading to the killing of at least 25 rebels in Guapi, including a member of the group’s negotiating team, Jairo Martínez.
In June 2015, the Farc’s bombing of an oil pipeline saw 410,000 barrels of crude spilled in the southern state of Tumaco, causing one of the country’s worst-ever environmental disasters.
News Source TelegraphNews