TODAY COLOMBIA (Prensa Latina) Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said today (March 30, 2016) that the country is moving towards the end of conflict once and for all, in the wake of the agreement signed today to start official talks with the insurgent National Liberation Army (ELN).
President Santos demanded that FARC guerrillas “set a final date, precise and clear, for completing the disarmament process,” once the peace accord is signed.
Santos said Monday that differences between the government and the FARC over the time and terms of disarmament stopped the peace pact from being signed last March 23, the target date set by both parties last September.
Santos confirmed that Ecuador will be the main host to the talks, which will also be held in other countries of the region, though he failed to set an exact date for the start of the negotiations. “The date would be within a period of 60 days after the signing of an eventual and definitive peace accord,” said Santos.
Since November 2012, representatives of the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) have been holding talks in Cuba with the objective of finding a political solution to the long conflict; however, contacts with the ELN had only been exploratory to agree an agenda and timetable for the upcoming negotiations.
“Though the processes with FARC-Ep and ELN are different, the goals are the same; therefore, the establishment of coordination mechanisms on key issues will be needed, based on what has been agreed already in Havana with the former guerrilla group,” insisted Santos.
Santos thanked Quito, Chile, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela for their support and cooperation during the talks.
In Caracas, the delegations of the Colombian Government and the ELN have made public their determination to start the official stage of discussions, which gives priority to the participation of the citizens in the construction of the country’s future.
From Twitter and other social networking sites, Parliament members, activists and human rights champions welcomed the start of this negotiation process.
“This is a day of happiness and hope for Colombia,” commented lawyer Piedad Cordoba. “What starts today is an act of courage,” said House representative Angela Maria Robledo.