Colombia’s FARC rebels and the government agreed on Saturday to set up a truth commission, which will seek to address the thousands of lives claimed by five decades of fighting in the country.
The commission has agreed to hear the testimony and grievances of some of the conflict’s victims at the next round of peace talks, which are being held in Havana, Cuba.
The move is seen as a significant step towards peace and comes little more than a week before Colombians head to the polls on June 15 to vote in the country’s tight presidential election run-off between incumbent Juan Manuel Santos and opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
“Each day we feel closer to the mountaintop, to the Mount Everest of rights, which is peace. Without that no other rights are possible,” rebel leader Ivan Marquez said.
Fighting between the Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the state has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced scores others since it began in 1964.
Negotiators have laid out 10 points for the next round of peace talks, including reparations for victims and guarantees they would not suffer again. Both sides have pledged to take responsibility for victims, a departure from the wartime rhetoric of blaming each other. They also agreed to clarify the truth of what happened in the war, and to seek reconciliation.
The FARC has also declared a unilateral ceasefire stretching from June 9-30 for the country’s upcoming presidential run-off.
(FRANCE 24 with RETUERS)
Date created : 2014-06-08