The presidential candidate for the right-wing Democratic Center party on Wednesday asked Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks with rebel group FARC in light of the recent murder of two policemen.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, presidential candidate for the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD), asked current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to “immediately” suspend peace negotiations with the FARC, Colombia’s oldest guerrilla group. Zuluaga’s demands are due to claims that the FARC are responsible for the kidnapping and murder of two police officers on Tuesday.
The murders of Major German Mendez and patrolman Luis Felipe Muñoz in the southwestern state of Nariño have been attributed to the FARC, although the guerrilla group has not taken responsibility and there are no confirmed reports.
Despite the lack of concrete evidence, Zuluaga, the candidate supported by ex-president Alvaro Uribe, believes the murders to be an infringement of the peace process and should therefore lead to a suspension of the ongoing peace talks in Havana.
The Colombian Government has been conducting peace talks with the FARC in Havana since 2012.
Zuluaga wrote the letter to President Santos, released by the CD, in which he expresses his conviction “that we can only negotiate when there is genuine desire for peace.”
The presidential candidate reminded President Santos of his promise in January that negotiations would be suspended if the FARC “attempted an attack against someone important.”
“In the last few hours, the FARC murdered and cruelly tortured Major German Mendez, who was married with three children as well as Luis Felipe Muñoz, two brave police officers who did social work for the benefit of communities in Tumaco,” wrote the candidate.
The letter then continues to tell Santos “to act accordingly and immediately suspend negotiations in Havana.”
In response to the attacks President Santos described the murders as “cowardly assassination” that “will not go unpunished.” Santos has not yet responded to Zuluaga’s demands.
Peace talks began in November 2012 and are currently in their 21st round of discussions.
Zuluaga is one of five candidates who will seek the presidency of Colombia during May 25 elections, in which Santos seeks also re-election.