Largest FARC dissidence hopes to “finally” set up peace talks table

Tibú, Colombia, Oct 16 (EFE).- The Central General Staff (EMC), the largest dissidence of the former FARC, is hopeful that on Monday, “finally,” the peace negotiating table with the Colombian government will be installed in the municipality of Tibú, located in the troubled region of Catatumbo.

“From the organization, we are hopeful that today we can finally start the formal installation of this table,” said the EMC spokesman, Andrey Avendaño, to journalists in Tibú, which is part of the department of Norte de Santander (bordering Venezuela).

The parties will meet again Monday in Tibú, as they did on October 8, hoping that the official announcements can be made this time: the beginning of the bilateral ceasefire until the end of the year and the start of peace talks.

On the agenda, both delegations are scheduled to meet to confirm the immediate beginning of the ceasefire -with the respective publication of the government decree- and the official start of the negotiations of what will be the second peace process of this government, one year after the one opened with the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The relationship between the parties has been strained since May when the government unilaterally suspended the six-month ceasefire -from January to June- with the EMC in four departments after a front of that armed group murdered four indigenous minors it had recruited.

This week, when the government announced a cessation of offensive operations on Tuesday, a soldier was killed in the troubled department of Cauca (southwest). The Military Forces blamed the crime on the Carlos Patiño group, part of the EMC.

Negotiations expected Avendaño assured that the negotiating table is “a space that many Colombians are already waiting for” and recalled, “eight days ago, the installation was scheduled.”

“For reasons beyond our control as an organization, it could not be organized, but the expectation and the message of tranquility to the communities is that they have the certainty that on the part of the delegations, we are making all possible efforts to advance in the installation of the table,” he said.

When questioned about the scope of the bilateral ceasefire, the dissident responded: “We would have to ask ourselves what the communities understand by hostilities. It is a question that is left for the press”.

“For us, the most important thing is to suspend military operations between the two forces, which has most harmed the communities. When there is fighting, the civilian population is affected with displacements, and things happen that are undesirable for a community,” he added. EFE


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