Colombia’s government and far-left FARC rebels will announce on Wednesday that they have reached a final peace agreement, government officials told several media.
According to British press agency Reuters, three officials close to the negotiations confirmed the deal. Bogota newspaper El Tiempo also cited a government source claiming the negotiations had ended.
“We are facing an imminent deal to close the negotiations,” one of Reuters’ sources said, adding that it was unclear what time the announcement would come. “It will probably be in the evening.”
The formal signing of the long-negotiated peace treaty is likely to take place in the second half of September, according to newspaper El Espectador.
The peace deal is historic as it ends the hemisphere’s oldest and largest-longing conflict in the hemisphere after talks that began in secret in early 2011.
While the FARC is not the only active illegal group in armed conflict with the state, it is by far the largest and most powerful.
Peace talks with the much smaller ELN are ongoing, but negotiators are struggling to get the talks formalized.
Causes of Colombia’s conflict
The FARC, which began as a group of 48 armed farmers in 1964, has been engaged in formal talks with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos since late 2012.
The negotiations have since led to agreements on far-stretching rural and political reforms in the hope of tackling some of the core issues that are widely seen as the main causes of the conflict.
The guerrillas have also vowed to abandon drug trafficking with which they have financed their revolt since the early 1980s and that has fueled violence since.
Colombia’s peace deals in depth
The most controversial part of the agreement is the deal on transitional justice that allows convicted war criminals to evade prison under the condition they fully cooperate with justice and repair their victims.
Both sides have committed many thousands of human rights violations in the course of the conflict that has ravished the country and has left more than 8 million victims, more than 13% of the national population.
For the peace deal to become formal, the Colombian people will be asked to ratify it in a plebiscite.
A date for this vote has yet to be set, but is expected within months.
The government and the leftist opposition have called on their supporters to support the peace deal.
The conservative opposition, led by former Presidents Alvaro Uribe and Andres Pastrana, has called on its supporters to reject the deal, claiming the FARC will be granted impunity for war crimes and rejecting the possibility of war criminals being granted seats in Congress.
Paradoxically, now-congressman Uribe himself is under investigation for war crimes as he allegedly colluded with paramilitaries in a 1998 massacre.
The Colombian people are bitterly divided over the talks after decades of bloody conflict.