The Colombian government and left-wing Farc rebels have announced that they have reached an agreement on a bilateral ceasefire that would be the last important step towards ending one of the world’s longest wars.
“We have successfully reached an agreement on the bilateral and final ceasefire and the end of hostilities,” the two sides said in a statement read to media in Havana.
The deal will be signed Thursday in Havana by President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his war name Tymoshenko.
President Juan Manuel Santos will travel to Cuba on Thursday for the announcement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced that he will also be present to witness the signing of the agreement.
The presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Chile, the three countries sponsoring the nearly four-year peace talks in Havana, were also expected, and the Obama administration will send its special envoy to the talks, former diplomat Bernard Aronson. .
The conflict in Colombia has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions since 1964. But a 15-year military offensive backed by the United States has reduced the ranks of the rebels and forced its aging leaders to the negotiating table in 2012.
Momentum was on the way to a breakthrough after Santos said this week he hoped to end half a century of bloodshed by July 20.
But Wednesday’s deal went further than expected, removing any doubt about the approach of a final deal.
The cease-fire, which includes the conditions for the demobilization and deposit of arms of the Farc, will not begin until the final agreement has been signed.
In addition to announcing a framework for the ceasefire, the two sides said they had agreed on how the 7,000 Farc fighters would be demobilized and hand over their weapons, as well as on the security guarantees that will be provided to left activists after the end of the conflict. In January, negotiators tasked the UN with monitoring compliance with a possible ceasefire and resolving disputes resulting from demobilization.
With the latest advances, there are only a few minor points left unanswered, the most important being how the final deal will be ratified and become law so that it does not collapse if a more conservative government takes over from Santos. , who left office in 2018.
Santos has pledged to put the deal to a referendum so that Colombians can express their opinion. Opinion polls show that the Farc are widely looked down upon among Colombian conservatives and that frustration with the rebels has grown as the talks dragged on, making reconciliation more distant.
The peace talks were bumpy and lasted much longer than Santos or anyone expected. But if a final deal is made, it will end Latin America’s last major insurgency, accused of being a major supplier of cocaine to the United States, albeit the much smaller and more recalcitrant National Liberation Army. , has a foothold in certain regions and could fill the void left by the Farc.
The Farc called for a unilateral ceasefire almost a year ago and the government responded by halting airstrikes on rebel camps. Negotiators missed a self-imposed deadline to sign the final deal in March.
The group of around 8,000 fighters, up from 17,000 at its peak, is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
The Farc were born out of a peasant movement in the 1960s demanding land reform and have since fought against successive governments.