Colombians cautiously optimistic about peace deal with FARC

FARC rebels and Colombia to agree to ceasefire. Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Bogota Jun 23, 2016, 02.19 AM (IST)
Colombians are cautiously awaiting a peace deal in the South American nation after Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced an agreement on a bilateral ceasefire and the end to hostilities at peace talks in Cuba on Wednesday.

Authorities said the formal accord on the point will be signed today by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko.

"It's always something important when it becomes concrete because there are a lot of doubts about what was really agreed in Havana and which hasn't yet surfaced. Citizens still don't know (about the peace agreement). We all want peace and hopefully this (deal) is good," said citizen, Terencio Poo.

Agreement on a third point of the negotiating agenda would be a major step forward in efforts by the two sides to end 50 years of war that have killed 220,000 people and displaced millions.

Santos has promised the final accord will be put to the Colombian people in a plebiscite, and must win over those sceptical of FARC promises to rejoin civil society, including supporters of hard-line former President Alvaro Uribe who claims a deal will grant guerrillas impunity for war crimes.

"Hopefully the announcement tomorrow tells us that there will be jail for those who have committed heinous crimes and crimes against humanity," said co-President of the Democratic Centre opposition party, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga,

Once there is agreement on the third agenda point, the only remaining topic is how exactly the referendum will be organised.
If approved by the public, it would bring to an end Latin America's longest armed conflict.

"There are a lot generations, like mine, who never seen a single day of peace and tomorrow will be practically the end of the war," said Senator Mauricio Lizcano from Santos` ruling party.

President Santos has said this week the government and the rebels will complete negotiations for a final deal by July 20. The ceasefire, which includes terms for the FARC's demobilisation, laying down of arms, and security for former fighters, does not begin until the final deal is signed.

Colombian citizen Mariana Hoyos said Wednesday's ceasefire announcement is the first of many steps of a peace to come.
"This is the first step and I think there is still a lot to be done, but this is the start," she said.

Cuban President Raul Castro, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet are also expected to attend the signing ceremony in Havana the two sides said. 

(Reuters)
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