Tibú, Colombia, Oct 8 (EFE). – The Colombian government and the Central Military Command (Estado Mayor Central, EMC), the main dissident group of the FARC, confirmed on Sunday a widely expected ceasefire that will begin at midnight, followed by the start of a peace dialogue.
The announcement was received with excitement, but was hanging by a thread after disagreements between the two delegations.
The spokesman of the EMC, Andréy Avendaño, and the High Commissioner for Peace, Danilo Rueda, confirmed that the arrest of the military offense will be followed by a ceasefire starting on October 16.
The announcement was made in Tibú, a municipality of Catatumbo in northeastern Colombia, a region deeply affected by the conflict and most in need of a ceasefire.
The event lasted all morning, and it was not until late afternoon that the delegations finally spoke and announced the ceasefire and the opening of the negotiating table.
The delay in the announcements increased tensions among those who had traveled hours, even days, and waited five hours in 40-degree weather to hear the news.
Tensions rose to the point that local leaders had warned the government delegation that it might be unable to leave the area.
“The ceasefire aims to protect the population first, to avoid the unnecessary bleeding of soldiers, police and guerrillas,” said Rueda, who arrived after the participants had waited for many hours and demanded to hear him.
Both delegations read a joint statement saying that further preparations are needed to implement the ceasefire.
“Therefore, on October 16, the National Government will issue the final ceasefire decree to facilitate the continuity of the process,” the statement said.
Also on the 16th, “the exploratory and preparatory phase for the formal launch of the peace dialogue process will be completed with the establishment of the Round Table”, it added.
“As of today, the parties have decided to stop the war and continue the peace process initiated between the Colombian State and the EMC of the FARC-EP,” the two parties agreed.
The announcement comes after a few days of uncertainty and doubts about the process due to the clashes between the two parties, which were apparently overcome in the meetings that the delegations held in Tibú.
The head of the government delegation, Camilo González, said that the delegations would remain in Catatumbo throughout the week to meet with local communities and prepare for October 16.
The truce will be extended for three months until the end of the year. EFE