The government and the FARC were called to “urgently” speed up a reduction of violence by sponsor countries at the peace talks in Havana over concerns that a recent uptick in FARC attacks and combat are diminishing the possibilities of the talks ending successfully.
In response, the guerrilla group announced on Wednesday the renewal of a unilateral ceasefire, which will run for one month from July 20.
“We announced our willingness to order a unilateral ceasefire from July 20, for a month. We are looking with this to generate favorable conditions to advance with the counterparty the realization of a bilateral and definitive ceasefire,” FARC commander and peace negotiator “Ivan Marquez” said at a press conference.
Santos replied that the unilateral ceasefire would not be enough. “To start it, to apply it, we need to speed up negotiations on the other issues, especially the issue of justice, which still remains” he said on Wednesday.
“We appreciate the FARC’s gesture of the unilateral ceasefire, but more is needed, especially concrete commitments to accelerate the negotiations,” the Colombian president wrote in his Twitter account.
Santos furthermore claimed that this move from the guerrillas was “pressured by public opinion” that has widely lost confidence in the peace talks and, according to a recent poll, disapprove of Santos approach.
Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre subsequently urged Santos and the FARC to agree on a bilateral ceasefire as soon as possible.
Montealegre claimed that negotiations in the midst of war were “unsustainable” and a bilateral ceasefire would be an important step towards peace in the country.
“I call on the President of the Republic and the FARC to quickly sign the agreements in Havana and even before the signing of these agreements to agree on a bilateral ceasefire, the country’s highest public prosecutor said.
The FARC’s ceasefire was lifted on May 22 in response to a military attack that killed 27 guerrillas. A period of intensified violence has since this point gripped the country resulting in an increased number of casualties on both sides amid lagging peace talks and the country’s dwindling faith. This last month has been according to the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (CERAC) the most violent since negotiations began in November 2012.
The guarantor countries Cuba and Norway in early June urged for a bilateral ceasefire, a request echoed by Colombia’s Ombudsman and the UN other and international governing bodies. This is something Santos administration has consistently refused, fearing the guerrilla group would break this and would additionally use the time to strengthen forces .
During the FARC’s 5 month unilateral ceasefire a 90% reduction of violence was witnessed in contrast to the same time frame the previous year. There were a total of 91 violent occurances, 79 of these initiated by the Colombian government and 12 by the FARC.
FARC negotiator Pastor Alape reported that during this time there existed a “non-conformity between troops”. He reported in late June “The rebel troops asked their commanders if they were going to allow the army to kill them without defending themselves.”
The rebels and the government have since the beginning of the talks in November 2012 signed partial agreements on political participation, rural reform and the FARC’s abandoning of drug trafficking, three of the six agenda items. They have additionally agreed to a Truth Commission that will begin after a final agreement is reached in Havana.
The negotiating teams still have three more agenda points for discussion: victim reparation, disarmament of the rebels (end of conflict) and the final implementation of all agreed points.
The current cycle will close this Monday with a possibility the parties may finally announce an agreement on the point of victims. This is an issue both parties have struggled with, not knowing how to adequately bring justice and compensation for over 7 million individuals generated in 51 years of armed conflict.