End of 60-year war?: Colombian Government FARC

Published: September 24, 2015

End of 60-year war?: Colombian Government FARC, The Colombian government and FARC rebels will sign a definitive peace deal within six months to end their half-century conflict, President Juan Manuel Santos said as the two sides announced a major breakthrough.

Santos and FARC leader Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez presided over a ceremony where the government and rebel leaders signed a deal on justice for crimes committed during the conflict, which had been the key issue blocking progress in dragging peace negotiations.

Santos said he and Timochenko “have agreed that at the latest in six months — six months — these negotiations must conclude and the final peace accord must be signed.”

“It’s not going to be an easy job because there are still difficult points to agree upon, but that is the instruction we have given to our delegations: they must complete the accord as soon as possible,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed what he called “historic progress” in finally ending a conflict that killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted six million.

“Peace is now ever closer for the Colombian people and millions of conflict victims,” he said.

Santos had made a surprise trip to Havana, where the talks have been taking place, for the signing ceremony.

It was the first time he has appeared at the negotiations he set in motion nearly three years ago, which he has staked his presidency on successfully concluding.

It was also the first time he had met Timochenko, with whom he shook hands after the deal was signed — the president clad in a white dress shirt, the guerrilla in a white Cuban-style “guayabera” shirt with pockets.

The talks in Havana, which began in November 2012, had stalled over the thorny question of whether guerrillas will face prison for kidnappings, use of child soldiers, cocaine trafficking and other crimes.

The new deal includes a broad amnesty, though it will not cover “crimes against humanity, serious war crimes” and other offenses including kidnappings, extrajudicial executions and sexual abuse, said officials from Cuba and Norway, the countries mediating the talks.

It also includes the creation of special courts with both Colombian and foreign judges to try those charged with the most serious crimes, they said.

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