The lead negotiator for Colombia’s largest armed group, the FARC reiterated the group’s opposition to the legal framework for peace on Tuesday, as the latest rounds of peace talks with the government began.Tuesday’s peace talk round began with what many believe is the most sensitive point of the six-point agenda for the talks in Havana; how to deal with the victims of 50-year-old conflict.
Both sides of the ongoing conflict blame the other for the war that has killed 220,000 people and caused more than five million others to flee their homes.
“This matter is very important because it is going to hand us the keys to clear the path toward the reconciliation of the Colombian family,” said FARC’s chief negotiator Ivan Marquez, quoted in French newswire AFP.
FARC slams legal framework
But just as the talks get under way again, FARC’s chief negotiator, Ivan Marquez, refused to abide by the legal framework and transitional justice on the grounds that it has not been discussed with the FARC, according to a press release published Tuesday.
“This legal framework doesn’t exist because it hasn’t been agreed by both parties. The General Agreement infers that none of the parties can claim exclusive rights to define in a unilateral way topics that haven’t been discussed at the table”, Marquez said before the start of the 27th round of conversations, according to FARC press release.
Among other things the legal framework for peace states that FARC members convicted of war crimes against humanity can not hold public offices or participate in politics.
According to Colombia’s RCN Radio, Marquez said that initiatives as the legal framework tramples the smooth progress of the peace talks and “puts us on alert”.
The government delegation, led by former vice president Humberto de la Calle, made no statements to the press, local newspaper reports.
— FARC-EP in English (@FARC_EPeace) August 12, 2014
Victims start testimony
On Saturday the first 12 of 60 victims will deliver their testimony in order that their demands are considered in an eventual agreement.
So far, the government and FARC have reached agreement on three points out of six. The other three points concern land reform, and the creation of a land bank to reallocate property seized during the decades long conflict, political participation for FARC members, and putting an end to drug trafficking that has fueled the conflict and filled FARC’s treasury.
The peace talks are President Santos’ main priority and when he took office for a second term last week, he promised to end the conflict. His campaign that led to reelection mainly focused on the peace process.
FARC wants total impunity: Prosecutor General
The government did not respond with an official statement, but Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordoñez was quoted as striking out against the FARC’s statement.
“This proves what we have said repeatedly, and what we’re going to keep saying: What FARC wants is absolute, complete and militant impunity,” Ordonez said according to Colombia’s LA FM radio station.
“There is no doubt that victims of paramilitary violence or the State should be compensated. But those who are sitting in Havana are the perpetrators of FARC, they have to tell the truth, give reparations to their victims, recognize their victims. These episodes delegitimize the process.”