Santos rejects FARC-EP’s call for bilateral ceasefire

FARC rebels.

FARC rebels.

Bogota, Colombia (nsnbc) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected a renewed call for a bilateral ceasefire from Colombia’s largest guerrilla group FARC-EP. While Santos stressed the “complexity of the conditions in Colombia”, the FARC peace delegates assert that a bilateral ceasefire would be “the best way to de-escalate the conflict and to prevent further, unnecessary bloodshed” as the peace talks in the Cuban capital Havana continue.

President Santos informed the press that he considers it unlikely that a bilateral ceasefire would come into effect before the conclusion of the ongoing peace talks. The current round of talks between the government and the FARC-EP is dealing with fact-finding about the causes of the more than five decades-long civil war and fact-finding about both sides’ respective responsibility for the over 700,000 victims of the continent’s longest-lasting civil war.

Talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) were complicated when a guerrilla unit, last week, launched a deadly attack against a military detachment.

The incident, arguably, ended the FARC-EP‘s voluntary, unilateral ceasefire. It is, however, uncertain whether the incident occurred as willful attack on behalf of the FARC-EP’s command, or whether the incident was caused due to the lack of a bilateral ceasefire and clear lines and zones for the disengagement of forces.

The situation became aggravated even further when Santos responded by resuming air strikes against FARC-EP units while denouncing the incident as “the product of a deliberate attack by the FARC, and not a coincidence”. Santos would stress that the attack constituted a clear rupture of the FARC-EP’s promise to adhere to the self-imposed unilateral ceasefire.

FARC Area of Operations

FARC Area of Operations

The FARC-EP, for its part, stressed that a bilateral ceasefire would be the best way to guaranty that no further incidents occur while the peace talks continue. The guerrilla added that a bilateral ceasefire would imply that all of the conflicting parties show the political will for peace as well as good faith.

The FARC-EP peace delegates in Havana added that there is a list of required tactical operations which are required for the successful implementation of a bilateral ceasefire. These operations would include the separation of forces and clearly defined geographical areas as one of the primary preconditions.

The FARC-EP is pointing at the historical precedent and the successful ending of the civil wars in El Salvador in 1992, in Guatemala in 1996, and in Nepal in 2006, stressing that these conflicts were in many regards very similar to the civil war in Colombia.

Author: Christof Lehmann

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