Election should focus on ideas, not FARC: Uribe

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Sunday that political debate leading up to the elections should be focused on ideas and arguments, rather than guerrilla organization the FARC and its hostages.

Uribe called the international community’s attention to what he has previously called the FARC’s attempt to discredit his government by posponing the release of hostages in the lead-up to national elections, following a security council meeting in Cauca on Sunday.

“We call the world’s attention to this trick of the FARC. All the necessary guarantees requested to liberate the hostages have been given and they haven’t been liberated. Why is that?” Uribe said.

“Election debate should be about political ideas, with arguments, not about the pain of those kidnapped,” he went on.

Uribe reiterated the government’s commitment to the hostages’ liberation and condemned the FARC’s harrassment of the population of the Cauca department.

“These bandits are preparing to send a peace proposal to the government, a government that has always been open to peace. What we want is a dialogue in good faith,” the head of state said.

Uribe asked Colombians not to be fooled by the FARC’s manipulations.

“Who will believe them [the FARC] if they fly the peace flag simply as a way to distract the Colombian public from the elections. Who will believe them if, while they try to fool us with invitations to peace, they continue to threaten the Cauca population,” Uribe said.

Uribe believes the FARC are postponing the release of hostages Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Josue Daniel Calvo until closer to the elections.

Negotiations over the hostages’ release have been ongoing for nearly a year.

Moncayo has been in FARC captivity since 1997, and Calvo since April last year. Both are Colombian soldiers.

In addition to the hostages, the FARC will also release the remains of policeman Julian Guevara, who died in 2006 after eight years in captivity.

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