Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebel leader “Timochenko” argued on Tuesday about who was responsible for apparent delays to the peace process.
In a statement issued from Havana where peace talks are held, the FARC’s commander-in-chief accused the government of “slowing down, of complicating the progress of the agreements.”
Timochenko claimed that “delays, pretexts and excuses” were becoming “frequent” and could mean that the final peace deal is not signed by the proposed date, 23 March 2016, as promised by both in September.
The rebel leader referred to the incomplete transitional justice deal as an example. The deal was signed on September 23 and was the catalyst for the final deal being scheduled for six months later, but “it turned out that the deal on justice could not be considered closed, that the only official thing was a statement,” said the FARC chief.
Previous public exchanges between the government’s and rebel negotiators had already shown that, while the transitional justice deal was presented as a done deal, the government still wanted to tweak the agreement.
In defense of his government, his negotiation team and himself, Santos said in a press conference in the Philippine capital of Manila that on the side of the government, there is “all the will and the interest to reach an arrangement as soon possible.”
Santos was sure to reiterate that the decision to choose March 23, 2016 as the deadline “was not a unilateral decision, it was a decision agreed upon with the FARC.”
“Timochenko himself said in Havana that if there is political will we could even sign well before March 23. I think the same,” added Santos.
In fact, Santos implied that it is the FARC who are slowing negotiations down, “what (the FARC) are proposing is a kind of statue game, that is to say we stay still. This is not possible in the Colombian case in these circumstances. What we have to do is move forward.”
The peace talks between the government and the FARC, a guerrilla army that has been fighting the state since 1964, began three years ago and have since resulted in major progress.
However, the issues of justice — how to respond for the tens of thousands of war crimes committed by both parties, and the FARC’s actual disarmament and demobilization have been negotiation during ongoing distrust between both parties.
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