Colombia peace talks restart ahead of presidential poll

With the election campaign in full swing, the negotations begin again with the hope of ending a conflict that has raged for over half a century.

Colombia peace talks restart ahead of presidential poll

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Colombian government’s negotiating team and the representatives of the FARC guerrillas, on Tuesday recommence the peace talks in Havana, Cuba against the backdrop of an increasingly heated race for the Colombian presidential election set for June 15.

This latest cycle of talks will now address the fourth item on the agenda, that of the victims in Colombia’s long-running armed conflict. The three previous rounds of talks were aimed at agrarian reform, political participation and the subject of illegal drugs.

Worryingly for both presidential hopefuls, the results of a new survey showed that 67 percent of capital Bogota citizens polled did not believe that the peace dialogues would be successful.

“This is very bad news for reconciliation on a national scale and for the development of a land restitution program,” said Juan David Cardenas, director of the study and the department head for Media Observation at the University of La Sabana.

While all eyes are on the presidential election on June 15 between President Juan Manuel Santos of the Social Party of National Unity and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of the Democratic Center party, the central debate is that of the peace talks. President Santos has pegged his re-election hopes on a successful outcome to the dialogues while Zuluaga had initially proposed a suspension of the talks were he to be elected. Having struck a deal with the Conservative party’s defeated leader Marta Lucia Ramirez, Zuluaga has since changed tack and declared that he will continue the peace talks but under certain conditions.

“We are going to permit the peace dialogues to continue but we will establish a specific time frame, clear conditions and limits within which to allow for significant, visible advances that will create trust and credibility,” said Oscar Ivan Zuluaga to El Espectador newspaper.

This round of talks in Havana between the government’s negotiating team and representative of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC guerrillas) differs in that it will only run for two days as they discuss how to proceed in this election period, as opposed to the customary eleven days.

The peace negotiations between the FARC and the Columbian government began in November 2012 and are attempting to bring an end to a conflict which since 1958 has, according to the Human Rights Watch, killed 220,000 people and displaced up to 5 million. A previous effort at reaching a peace agreement took place during the presidency of Andres Pastrana between 1999 and 2002, but was unsuccessful.

Last Mod: 04 Haziran 2014, 11:17
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