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Colombia, FARC announce ceasefire accord

June 22, 2016

A senior negotiator for the Marxist rebels has announced the "last day of conflict" with government forces. Colombia's president called for negotiators on both sides to "make a final effort" to end the decadeslong war.

FARC rebels
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Abd

Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reached an agreement on a bilateral and definitive ceasefire that will pave the way for a referendum on a peace deal between the warring parties, a senior FARC negotiator said on Wednesday.

"So that the horrible night ends and the path to peace and hope opens, we will announce (the deal) on Thursday 23 June. The last day of conflict," said FARC Secretariat member and negotiator Carlos Lozada on the social media platform Twitter.

"The technical subcommission has turned in a proposal for an agreement on a ceasefire, end to hostilities and giving up arms," he added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will attend the ceremony on Thursday, FARC said in a statement.

The third point on the agenda, which dealt with the cessation of hostilities and demobilization, eluded negotiators on both sides.

Both sides failed to meet a March 23 deadline to formally end Latin America's longest guerilla conflict after the leftist group said they were unable to secure a comprehensive deal that would prevent demobilized fighters from being prosecuted.

However, Wednesday's announcement comes after both sides of the conflict asked the UN for an international observer mission to monitor and verify rebel disarmament, marking another milestone in peace talks.

The Marxist rebels had launched an insurgency against the Colombian government in 1964, which resulted in a protracted armed conflict that has left more than 220,000 people dead, millions displaced and tens of thousands missing.

'Final effort'

Earlier this week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called for a final push to bring about an end to the conflict.

"If the negotiators make a final effort to finish the definitive point that is a ceasefire and the end to hostilities, we will have taken a fundamental step in attaining peace," Santos said.

"I appeal to God that he gives us the strength to finish these accords this very week, because we have almost completed them," he added.

If an accord for demobilization and the cessation of hostilities is signed on Thursday, a referendum on ending the conflict will be the last point to achieve on the peace talks agenda.

ls/kl (Reuters, dpa, AFP)