Colombia’s Congress will hold extra sessions to debate the pending demobilization and concentration of thousands if not tens of thousands of FARC guerrillas, President Juan Manuel Santos announced.
The FARC, Colombia’s largest and oldest rebel group, has been negotiating peace with the Santos administration since late 2012 and are in the final stretch of talks.
In the event of a final peace deal — or possibly before that — the government expects between 20,000 and 40,000 guerrillas and militia members to demobilize.
FARC spokeswoman Tanja Nijmeijer on Monday told Colombia Reports it is “too early” to clarify how many people the guerrilla group will demobilize.
On Tuesday, Congress will return from its holiday recess and continue debating a number of proposals made by the government that seek the implementation of an eventual peace deal.
“I am going to convene extra sessions in Congress to approve a modification in the Law for Public Order with the intent to allow the president of the Republic to begin the procedures for the concentration of the FARC in the negotiated sites,” Santos said over the weekend.
The concentration areas will be used for FARC members to register and go through a screening process that will determine their judicial future; those free of war crime charges will receive amnesty and those suspected of war crimes will be sent to the penal chamber of a transitional justice court.
The government and the guerrillas are still negotiating how many of these concentration areas will be necessary for an orderly demobilization of the guerrillas and their abandoning of weapons.
Additionally, the FARC has demanded security measures that would prevent the killing of guerrillas on their way to or inside these demobilization sites.
Santos said that the guerrillas’ security is one of the issues to be debated in Congress.
According to Santos, the congressional procedure should be done by February, meaning the FARC will not demobilize before that.
Peace talks between the warring parties will continue on Tuesday “with some very clear instructions.”
The most important instruction is to “put the negotiations in acceleration to end this process hopefully before March 23,” the date agreed by Santos and FARC leader “Timochenko” in September last year.
The FARC has since backtracked on the deadline, claiming that the government improvised a renegotiation on transitional justice after this deal had been announced to the public already.
Notwithstanding, both parties have shown to be optimistic about a positive outcome of the talks and expect to finalize negotiations and end the 51-year-long conflict this year.
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