Colombia-ELN rebels begin peace talks
The Colombian government and rebels from the country's ELN left-wing group have started peace talks to end over five decades of conflict. The talks will begin in Ecuador's capital Quito. The ELN representative urged both sides to set aside their differences and focus on points that united them. In December, a peace accord was signed between Colombia and its largest rebel group, the FARC.
Formation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
The La Violencia civil war (1948-1958) of Colombia resulted in the formation of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Manuel Marulanda, the main leader of FARC, settled the group in Marquetalia to later create a society for fulfilling the needs of the rural population. Their first confrontation with the government happened after the Colombian-military carried out an attack on 48 FARC rebels in Marquetalia.
Colombia conflict: Death toll
Between 1980 to 2012, 1,982 people died and 5.7 million were displaced due to the Colombian conflict. 1,166 deaths were attributed to paramilitaries, 343 to rebels and 295 to government security forces.
Peace talks start in Havana
The Colombian government and the FARC initiated peace talks with an aim to end the ongoing civil war. Humberto de la Calle, the lead government negotiator, mentioned that it would be a rapid and effective process. De La Calle also mentioned that it was a deciding moment for the government and FARC, as both had agreed to the discussion.
Colombia peace talks continue
An agenda was decided upon before the negotiations were initiated. The agenda was based on a signed preliminary General Agreement, defining which demands can be made and which cannot. After one and half years of secret negotiations between the Santos Government and the FARC, an agreement was signed in the hope to end the five decade old war soon.
Important development in peace talks
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timochenko agreed upon a 6 month deadline to sign a peace agreement. They agreed to address the various human rights abuses committed by both sides during the conflict. The guerrilla group decided to surrender their weapons within 2 months after the final agreement being signed on 23rd March, 2016.
Another step towards end of civil war
The government's representatives and FARC rebels decided to compensate victims and establish a special court of justice for combatants. The partial agreement was the result of 1.5 years of work by rebels and government troops who participated and proposed ideas. The Truth Commission was created to investigate the war, search for missing people and return their remains by identifying them.
Colombia - FARC peace agreement delayed
The agreement which was supposed to be signed on 23rd March, 2016, was delayed due to differences between both the parties. The Chief Colombian government negotiator Humberto de la Calle mentioned that there was no point in rushing into a bad agreement. The Colombian Government and FARC decided to find a peaceful solution to the civil war by the end of the year.
FARC to release child soldiers from ranks
FARC has agreed to release child soldiers who are less than 15 years of age from the group's ranks. The Colombian Government and FARC were yet to decide on how to transition child rebels back into the society. Both the Colombian government and the FARC are yet to disclose the number of child rebels exiting the group.
Colombia and FARC agree to ceasefire
As the end of the bilateral peace talks draws near, the Colombian government and the FARC rebels have agreed to a historic ceasefire. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the official peace agreement would be signed by 20 July. Officials said that all modalities of the bilateral disarmament agreement had been worked out; however, details were not made available yet.
Colombians reject the peace deal with FARC
In a shock referendum, Colombians rejected the peace deal with FARC rebels, with 50.2% voting against it. The deal signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez, needed to be ratified by the Colombian voters to come into force. The 'No' vote endangers the peace deal which was expected to end a 52-year-long war with the FARC.
Significant terms of the peace deal
The peace accord ensures an end to confrontations between Colombian government and FARC. Its terms also allowed FARC rebels to re-enter society and legalize FARC's political participation allowing them to form a political party.
Possible reasons for rejection of the deal
According to 'No' campaigners, the peace accord provides many concessions to the FARC despite human rights violations. As per 'restorative justice principles' of the agreement, many FARC rebels will never face prison but only mild penalties. This lets them "get away with murder". It also offered ex-rebels with monthly allowance. Many believe while criminal behaviour was rewarded, honest citizens were left to struggle financially.
New peace accord with FARC ratified
The Colombian Congress ratified the new peace accord signed with the FARC, a day after it was endorsed by the Senate, despite objections from the opposition. President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed the move through which the FARC rebels will hand in their weapons and form a political party. The Colombian army will move into FARC territory to prevent drug-traffickers from taking over.