Colombia’s oldest and largest rebel group, the FARC, should begin demobilizing on Tuesday according to the government’s peace process timeline, but the guerrillas refuse.
The FARC’s refusal to stick to the government’s timeline is due to the fact that the legislation allowing the amnesty of the majority of guerrillas is pending in court longer than expected.
The shock result of an October 2 referendum in which Colombia’s voters rejected an initial peace deal did not just severely disrupt the peace process’ timeline, but also the approval process of the revised peace deal that was signed last Wednesday.
Additionally, there is ongoing disagreement between the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos on the exact date of “D-Day,” the day that sets in motion a strict timeline for the FARC’s 180-day demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process.
Santos told the Colombian people last week that D-Day would be last Thursday. Consequently, on “D+5,” Tuesday, FARC guerrillas would be entering the demobilization and disarmament camps where they would be held until their legal status is defined.
The FARC immediately responded, repeating what they have been saying since September; that they cannot demobilize until the Amnesty Law defining guerrillas’ legal status is in place, and this is where things becomes messy.
The Amnesty Law determines which crimes are pardonable and is a FARC guerrilla’s judicial guarantee he or she will be pardoned unless suspected of war crimes.
Congress, which is at days of going on Christmas recess, approved this and other priority laws that come with the peace agreement last Wednesday, but any law passing through Congress must be validated by the Constitutional Court to take force.
This extra passage through the court, which in a worst scenario could suspend the process until February, was never part of the peace process timeline had Colombians approved the peace deal through the referendum, but they didn’t.
And, the government had no “Plan B.”
Consequently, congressional revision of the peace deal must be validated by the court, which did not receive notice of the historic vote until D-Day itself.
The government expected the court to rule on the peace deal on Friday, but was told there would be no ruling until December 12.
According to newspaper El Espectador, sources close to the court said the magistrates could not find consensus on whether the revised peace deal had correctly be passed through Congress or should again be subject of a referendum.
Without any legislation that would allow the amnesty of the majority of its members, the FARC will not demobilize, the guerrillas’ chief negotiator Luciano Marin, a.k.a. “Ivan Marquez,” reiterated on Saturday.
“In spite of the FARC’s willingness, the government’s non-compliance to commitments paralizes the taking effect of D-Day,” Marin said on Twitter.
The ongoing uncertainty about the FARC’s impending demobilization and the ongoing procedural chaos increases the risk of FARC guerrillas losing faith in the process, and join other groups or form groups on their own.