Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos declared the opening of the National Peace Council on Wednesday, inviting civil society to make proposals for the ongoing peace process in Havana, Cuba between the state and guerrilla group the FARC.
President Santos installed the National Peace Council on Wednesday to ensure the participation of civil society in the process that seeks the termination of a conflict that has lasted for five decades, according to an official statement on the president’s website.
|“It is important that those who want peace, beginning with civil society in all its forms and organizations, contribute to this process and endorse the process.”|
The inauguration of the Peace Council took place at the Center for Historical Memory in Bogota and was attended by some 300 guests.
Referring to the ongoing peace talks between the state and the FARC, the country’s largest guerrilla group, Santos declared, “never before, in the half-century history of our armed internal conflict, have we had such a real opportunity, so concrete, to finish this conflict through dialogue.”
“We are undoubtedly facing a historic opportunity, an opportunity that is in our hands and we can not afford to lose it,” the head of state continued.
“It is important that those who want peace, beginning with civil society in all its forms and organizations, contribute to the process and endorse this process.”
Será la nación entera la que apruebe o no el acuerdo. ¡Porque este proceso es de Colombia y no de nadie más, no es de Juan Manuel Santos!
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) May 28, 2014
Other prominent politicians who joined Santos at the National Peace Council were ex-presidential candidate Clara Lopez, Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro, and Antanas Mockus — former presidential candidate and ex-Bogota mayor.
Santos declared that he was hoping to mobilize people in all regions of the country to support and work for peace. The national process will be coordinated from the office of the High Commissioner for Peace, which will allow a month for the Council to begin to start working actively.
Santos also expressed hope that through the National Peace Council, there may be an opportunity to open-up dialogue with the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN.
The Colombian state and the FARC have been in peace talks since November 2012 and have reached agreement on three of a total six points in the peace agenda, while negotiating in Havana, Cuba.