Ceasefire marks "last day of the war" for Colombia and FARC rebels

Havana (dpa) - The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group on Wednesday announced a bilateral ceasefire, negotiators in the Cuban capital Havana said, in what is a last step towards a peace accord expected for next month.

"In the name of the countless victims, no more death and horror for the homeland. Today is the last day of the war," negotiators wrote on Twitter.

Senior FARC officer Carlos Lozada wrote, "we have fulfilled our duty."

The definitive and bilateral agreement included stipulations on arms surrender, security guarantees and the fight against organized criminal organizations that include groups denoted as paramilitary, the government and FARC said in a statement.

They did not reveal specific details of the agreement, saying they would be made known Thursday at midday. The parties issued the communique in Havana, the seat of the peace process that started in November 2012.

An initial deadline of March 23 set by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was missed.

The ceasefire is a final pre-condition for a peace accord the two sides have been negotiating since 2012.

The deal will end the civil war between leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and the military that has raged since the 1960s, leaving 220,000 people dead and millions driven from their homes.

Negotiators have already agreed on transitional justice programmes, aid to victims of the conflict, joint action against organized crime, agricultural development programmes in rebel territories as well as political participation for former guerrillas.

Eleven months ago, FARC announced a unilateral ceasefire. But although Colombia suspended its air campaign against the guerrillas, it had until now refused to end a ground offensive.

Santos and FARC commander Rodrigo Londono are expected to sign the ceasefire agreement Thursday, in a ceremony attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Cuban President Raul Castro, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.

"Major breakthrough in Colombian peace negotiations - on my way to Havana for historic signing ceremony between Colombian president and FARC," Brende wrote on Twitter.

Santos said this week that a final peace accord could be ready for Colombia's Independence Day holiday July 20.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 21:25

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