Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos demanding on Monday that extreme-left FARC guerrillas set a date for the disarming of their troops as the warring parties struggle through the final phase of peace talks.
The statement comes a week after the government and the FARC missed a March 23 deadline for the signing of an agreement that would end more than half a century of armed conflict.
The president blamed the FARC’s alleged inability to agree on a specific date for demobilization and disarmament as one of “the reasons why the government did not sign.”
He demanded the FARC provide a “fixed date, accurate and clear to end the disarmament process” around the signing of a peace deal and before the rebel group is allowed to take part in politics.
Accompanied by chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle and Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo, Santos said at a press conference that leaving an open date is a situation that his government will not allow.
“The Government requires a fixed date, accurate and clear to end the disarmament process. For no reason that date can be left open,” stressed the head of state.
The FARC has so far refused to surrender its weapons to the state and have said they have not been granted the security guarantees that would allow their demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.
The demobilization issue has been one of the most contentious issues as both sides address the final point on the negotiation framework, “End of Conflict.”
Another point of importance related to the presence of the security forces throughout the national territory, making it clear that in areas set aside for the FARC to demobilize, police and military will be present.
“The government cannot allow any Colombian in any of the areas agreed upon for the surrender of weapons, to remain unprotected… Colombians nor their government accept an agreement that implies something different,” said Santos.
While the March 23 deadline was not met and there is apparent discord over the FARC’s demobilization and disarmament, Santos stressed that they will continue to work towards finding a solution.
The president said that if you want to reach a “stable and lasting peace” it is necessary to “continue the steady hand, with a fixed direction and act with full responsibility”.
“With insisting [and] persisting we will find reasonable solutions to these problems, solutions that suit us all Colombians,” he added.
Both sides have been engaged in talks since November 2012 to end the longest internal conflict in Latin America.