Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Thursday said to be open to the possibility of holding a public debate on their role in the upcoming 2014 elections.
“Marco Leon Calarca,” one of the rebels’ negotiating peace with the government in Cuba said “we could open a debate to receive proposals and take a decision regarding what the Colombian people want during this electoral campaign”
The 2014 presidential election campaign accelerated over the past week after President Juan Manuel Santos said to prepare for the reelection of his “policies of peace.” Subsequently, conservative opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga announced he will be taking part in the primaries of the Puro Centro Democratico movement of former President Alvaro Uribe.
The FARC will be talking about their possible future participation in Colombian politics, but might run out of time for the upcoming elections as the negotiators first have to come to an agreement with the government on an agrarian reform. Once this is signed off, the two teams will begin talking about how the FARC can integrate politically.
With the public debate, the FARC hopes to generate popular support will force “all candidates … to continue the [peace] process.”
Particularly on the right of Colombia’s political spectrum, there is discontent about the peace talks. Zuluaga told Colombia Reports his movement resists the peace talks because “the country abandoned the democratic security policies and changed [the policy] to a negotiation with a terrorist organization, the FARC.”
While the FARC are talking about the possible continuation of peace talks after the 2014 elections, the Santos administration had set a strict deadline and has said talks would not continue until after the end of this year. If Santos fails to be reelected, there is no guarantee the next president will continue talks with the guerrilla organization.
Talks between rebels and government began secretly in early 2011 and were formalized in Oslo in October last year. Since November, the two parties have been reunited in the Cuban capital of Havana almost constantly to seek a negotiated end to Colombia’s half-a-century armed conflict between leftist rebels and the state.