HAVANA (Reuters) – The Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels clashed yesterday over how to incorporate Latin America’s oldest guerrilla movement into the democratic process, as they began the latest round of peace talks in Havana.
The FARC reiterated its demand that Colombia’s 2014 general election be postponed a year in favour of a constituent assembly to chart the country’s political future.
The government has repeatedly rejected the proposal and insisted a peace agreement must be reached by the end of 2013.
Former vice president and lead government negotiator, Humberto de la Calle quickly dismissed the FARC proposal before yesterday’s talks began.
“There are clear parameters for talks on this point (political participation) agreed upon last year by both sides,” he said. “That is what the government is willing to discuss and nothing more.”
In May, after six months of negotiations facilitated by Cuba and Norway, the two sides reached an historic agreement on agricultural reform that calls for developing rural areas and providing land to the people living there.
But they remain at loggerheads over the second item on their six-point agenda: turning the FARC from insurgents into political participants.
More than 100,000 people have died and millions have been displaced in fighting since FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was founded in 1964 as a communist agrarian reform movement.