France President Francois Hollande is scheduled to visit a FARC pre-grouping camp during an upcoming trip to Colombia later this month, according to the Colombian government.
The news was confirmed by long-standing FARC-EP leader, Jorge Torres Victoria or “Pablo Catatumbo,” who said that it would be “an honor to receive the French President.” He added that the presidential visit, due between January 22-24, will help “boost the implementation of the peace deal.”
President Hollande’s forthcoming visit is preceded by that of the French ambassador in Colombia Jean-Marc Laforet, who last Thursday visited the demobilization zone of Buenos Aires in the southwestern Cauca province.
Laforet, who became the first ambassador to visit the region in 200 years, stated that France “is at Colombia’s disposal to help implement the peace deal”, in what Catatumbo pronounced as “an historic event.”
French interest in the demobilization of FARC camps should come as little surprise given their continuous support of the recently completed peace deal.
President Hollande, leader of the French Socialist Party, hailed President Santos’ “political courage” during the peace talks and added that Colombia had France’s “full support.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition to the peace deal, former President Alvaro Uribe, was less enthusiastic about the prospect of President Hollande’s impending trip.
“News from Europe: Hollande, French President who has been incapable of tackling Jihadist terrorism, visits FARC-surrendered Colombia,” wrote the current senator of the Central Democratic party on his twitter account.
The revised peace deal was formally signed by the Colombian government and representatives of the FARC in Bogota on November 24th, following the narrow rejection of the original peace deal in an October 2nd referendum.
As part of a 10-year timeline, the landmark accord expects to see the FARC’s demobilization, disarmament and reintegration to be completed by May 30, when the United Nation’s role as observer of the process ends.
However, delays to the demobilization of FARC camps have already slowed what promises to be an arduous process.