HAVANA – The leader of the FARC rebel group on Tuesday accused the Colombian government of wanting to “slow down” the peace process and delay reaching a final accord within no more than six months, as had been agreed between the parties in September.
“Today, it concerns us that on the part of the government a certain proposal is prospering to slow down, to complicate progress on the agreements. The slow rhythm imposed at the (negotiating) table and (in the) subcommittees provides much to think about,” Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known as “Timochenko,” said in a communique datelined Havana, since 2012 the site of the peace talks.
Timochenko insisted that “postponements, pretexts and apologies” had become frequent government tactics in ensuring that the talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas and the representatives of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proceed slowly.
On Sept. 23 in Havana, Timochenko and Santos sealed with an historic handshake the signing of an agreement on transitional justice after which they announced that they would work toward signing the overall peace treaty before the end of March 2016.
But a few days later, discrepancies arose between the parties about what had been agreed to regarding meting out justice for human rights offenders, with the government saying it considered that agreement “a document in development” about which only general elements had been agreed to, a stance that greatly disturbed the rebel delegation.
“Quickly, it proved that the agreement on justice could not be considered closed, that the only official (document) was a communique,” said Timochenko.
In the text of the statement, the FARC leader asks if the delays are a sign of trying to pin the guerrillas down at the “last minute” to force the insurgent group to “accept (certain) stances.”
Timochenko said that the negotiation table “is and must continue being the ideal space to discuss and arrive at agreements,” so that “neither of the parties has the right to conceive of it as a mechanism for subduing the other.”
“We’ve gotten to this point because amid all the difficulties confidence has been strengthened. We must not affect that in any way,” the FARC leader said.
The peace talks are currently in recess but are expected to resume on Wednesday, shortly before the third anniversary of their launching.