The Colombian government said Friday that police and military operations cannot be suspended during the congressional elections on March 14, for the release of FARC hostages Pablo Emilio Moncayo and Josue Daniel Calvo.
“We cannot, as we’ve said to the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], weaken the presence of the armed forces in any part of the country in the middle of the electoral and democratic process … That is unacceptable,” Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said at a press conference.
Liberation negotiator and “Colombians for Peace” leader Piedad Cordoba said Monday that the FARC plan to release the hostages sometime between March 12 and March 16.
Silva said that although the government has not received an official request from the ICRC for the liberation to occur during the elections, the ICRC have been notified that a release operation would be inconvenient on the election weekend.
The defense minister said that the FARC often play games with the families of kidnap victims and with the nation, and that while the government is in favor of the liberation, the democratic process must not be risked.
One of the FARC’s conditions of the hostage release is that all military and police operations in the liberation area be suspended.
All the parties involved in the much-anticipated liberation were consulted over the protocol, El Tiempo reported.
Negotiations for Moncayo and Calvo’s release have been going on for almost a year now. The FARC first announced that it would release the hostages in April 2009.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe believes the FARC are postponing the hostage release until close to the national elections in order to discredit the government.
Moncayo has been in FARC captivity since 1997, while Calvo has been held since April last year. Both are Colombian soldiers.
In addition to the hostages, the FARC will also release the remains of policeman Julian Guevara, who died in 2006 after eight years in captivity.