While there are many outstanding issues to resolve, there is one point that everybody agrees on – that time is of the essence. The negotiators in Havana agreed to a ‘conclave’ – meaning the current schedule of talks would be changed to a format where the teams don’t leave the table until issues are resolved.
As a gesture of trust-building, the government have agreed to release 30 guerillas. In what is seen by commentators as a pilot project, the former fighters will be given clemency and join a programme for their reintegration into society.
In the weeks following the landmark ten-point agreement on September 23, there were a number of disputes over the fine print.
However, FARC leader Timochenko has now told media that they have come to an agreement on 74 of the 75 points.
El Espectador revealed that the sticking point is two fold. The government is trying to shield former leaders and President Santos to give them special privileges outside the jurisdiction for peace. And the FARC are objecting to the details of restorative justice – specifically, what is put in writing about restricting freedom.
President Santos announced on November 27, “We’re close to closing the deal on the guarantee of the rights of the victims”.
The topic of victims’ rights is divided into four sections: truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition. That’s why the final stitch in the Transitional Justice agreement is key to the next stage of the negotiations.
It is one of the five points that form the overall agenda in Havana. Agreement has been reached on the areas of land reform, political participation and illegal drugs, leaving discussions on victims and the end of the conflict still on the table.
Special zones for peace
The FARC have proposed the creation of special demilitarised zones where they can bring together former fighters in unarmed communities in areas where they have a strong historical presence. However, the government rejected the idea – negotiator and retired general Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel said from Havana, “We are not in this process to divide the country, nor to deliver ungovernable territories.”
Another key issue for the FARC is the eradication of paramilitary forces. They are advocating the creation of a commission that will provide recommendations on overcoming counterinsurgency structures.
Countdown to peace: 111 days left until March 23.