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An article by Julia Symmes Cobb published by Reuters
Dissident FARC rebels who rejected a landmark peace agreement in 2016 said on Sunday (April 16) they are ready to set up a dialogue with the government on May 16 to begin peace talks to bring their group, the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), out of the armed conflict.
Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernandez, alias Ivan Mordisco, head of the Central General Staff of the FARC dissidents, attends a meeting with peasant communities in Yari, Colombia April 16, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Quintero
Leftist President Gustavo Petro – a former member of the urban guerrilla group M-19 – pledged to end six decades of an armed conflict that has left more than 450,000 dead by signing peace or surrender agreements with rebels and criminal gangs, in addition to fully implementing the pact with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The EMC is one of two breakaway factions of the FARC and is made up of former leaders and fighters who did not accept the peace deal, which allowed in 2016 the reincorporation into civilian life of 13,000 people who formed a political party and received 10 seats in Congress.
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“We announce before the whole world that our delegates to the dialogue table with the Colombian state, headed by the national government, are already ready for May 16 of this year,” Ángela Izquierdo, spokeswoman for the armed group, told journalists.
There were no immediate comments from government officials.
Attorney General Francisco Barbosa suspended arrest warrants against more than 20 EMC members in early March, which facilitated the start of peace talks to be held in the Llano del Yari, on the border between the departments of Meta and Caqueta, in the south of the country.
The group, made up of 3,530 people – 2,180 combatants and 1,350 auxiliaries – has maintained a bilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government since the beginning of the year.
The other dissident FARC faction is the Segunda Marquetalia, which in August 2019 returned to the armed struggle, claiming that the state failed to comply with the peace agreement.
Petro’s government reestablished peace talks with the rebels of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the two parties seek to advance towards a bilateral ceasefire agreement in a third round of talks to begin soon in Cuba.