Colombia’s FARC Rebels Announce One-Month Ceasefire | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Colombia’s FARC Rebels Announce One-Month Ceasefire

Posted: Jul 9, 2015 at 6:21 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels announced Wednesday they will observe a one-month unilateral ceasefire in response to an international appeal for an urgent de-escalation in the country’s decades-old conflict.

The truce will start July 20, said Ivan Marquez, chief rebel negotiator at long-running peace talks in Havana.

He said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were acting on an appeal issued Tuesday by four countries supporting the peace talks, in order to dial back half a century of war after a recent spike in combat.

The goal of the truce, Marquez said, is to “create favorable conditions in order to advance with the opposing side toward a bilateral and definitive ceasefire.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed the move, but said the FARC had to do more to advance peace talks that have been under way in the Cuban capital Havana since late 2012.

“We appreciate the gesture of a unilateral ceasefire by the FARC but more is needed, especially concrete commitments to speed up the negotiations,” Santos said on Twitter.

Cuba and Norway are acting as so-called “guarantor” countries in the peace talks. Chile and Venezuela are “escort” countries. All four issued the appeal Tuesday for de-escalation.

FARC rebels had been observing a unilateral ceasefire since December, and it led to relative calm.

But clashes resumed in mid-April, following an ambush by the rebels that left 11 soldiers dead. Each side blames the other for the escalation. The FARC ended their truce in May.

During that truce, government forces stepped up attacks on rebel camps, the FARC alleges.

Since that truce ended, about 30 rebels have been killed in army operations and recent surveys show the public is increasingly wary about the peace process.

Three soldiers were killed, four wounded and one reported missing and possibly kidnapped in Colombia on Tuesday following several attacks that were believed to have been carried out by the FARC.

Colombia’s civil strife dates back to 1964 and has drawn in left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs, killing more than 220,000 people and uprooting as many as six million.