Colombia’s largest guerrilla group the FARC announced that they will not discuss or acknowledge the country’s recent presidential election results, nor speculate about potential results in the second round run-off, national media reported on Tuesday.
Luciano Marin Arango, alias “Ivan Marquez”, second in command of the rebel group and chief negotiator in the ongoing peace talks with Colombia’s government in Cuba stated, “We will not refer to the election results. Whatever we say could be interpreted in various ways, therefore we don’t want to risk opinions,” Caracol Radio reported.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
The country’s presidential elections, which took place on Sunday May 25, failed to produce a clear winner as none of the five candidates managed to gain a clear majority of the votes.
Instead, the election’s two leading candidates, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga — who on Monday stated that he would suspend the peace process with the FARC if elected — and Colombia’s incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos will vie for the head of state post in the second round on June 15.
With respect to the second round of elections, the FARC leader added, “Nobody knows if [Zuluaga] will be the next president. We will not respond to his insinuations.” and added that “he’s putting the seat on the horse, without the horse. It doesn’t make sense to give a response to this gentleman from [our negotiation table in] La Habana [Cuba].”
Marquez stated that the FARC would take a position after the second round of elections, reported Semana magazine.
PROFILE: Ivan Marquez
Marquez went on to describe the FARC’s adherence to the temporary cease-fire, expressing his disappointment with the Colombian media for giving credit to the military for “maintaining a climate of peace, but not mentioning the efforts of the insurgency that resolved to silence its guns so that the elections could take place in peace.”
The FARC announced on May 20 a unilateral cease-fire in anticipation of the first round of Colombian elections held on 25 May that would be in effect until 28 May.
According to Caracol Radio, the FARC also stated in the press conference that it has not yet discussed a potential prolongation of the unilateral cease-fire currently in effect until May 28.
Latest peace talks
The peace talks between Colombia’s governement and FARC delegates began in November 2012 and have continued despite ongoing exchanges between the guerrillas and government forces, rebel attacks on public and private infrastructure, and the capture of numerous FARC members.
The two sides recently reached an agreement on the topic of drug cultivation and trafficking, the third of six agenda items for the talks.
The next round of talks will move on to the subject of victims of Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict, expected to be one of the more complicated and emotionally charged points on the agenda. An estimated six-million Colombians are direct victims of the fighting between rebels, the country’s military and paramilitary groups.
The negotiators aim to agree on rural reform, drug trafficking, political participation and victim compensation before signing an agreement that would end the rebels’ longstanding war on the state.
Peace talks and 2014 Colombian elections
The peace talks are a contentious issue in the upcoming run-off election, with Democratic Center (Centro Democrático – CD) candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga taking a firm stance against peace talks.
Incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos and re-election candidate for the U Party (Partido de la U), has used the peace talks and the prospect of a potential peace agreement as a central talking point for his campaign.