Colombian government and largest FARC dissident group begin peace talks

BOGOTA (Reuters) – The Colombian government and the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), the largest FARC dissident group, said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they would begin peace talks on October 8 and initiate a 10-month bilateral, national ceasefire same day.

The EMC was founded by dissident former members of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, who reject a 2016 peace agreement signed by that group.

Talks between the Colombian government and the EMC are part of leftist President Gustavo Petro’s attempt to end the country’s armed conflict, which has lasted nearly six decades and killed nearly half a million people.

On October 8, there will be “the start of peace talks and the declaration of the agreement on respect for civilians and the (ceasefire) as well as a cessation of offensive operations,” the parties said in a statement.

From November 11 to August 8, 2024, the parties will assess the implementation of both the agreement on respect for civilians and the ceasefire, the statement added.

In May, the Colombian government suspended a national ceasefire with the EMC in some areas of the Andean country following the murder of four indigenous teenagers. The four minors were forcibly recruited by the group and then shot as they tried to escape, indigenous groups said.

At the beginning of March, the Colombian Attorney General suspended the arrest warrants against more than 20 EMC members to allow them to participate in the dialogue.

EMC members strongly rejected the talks that led to the 2016 FARC deal, while the founders of a second group of dissidents, Segunda Marquetalia, rejected the agreement three years after it was signed, saying the state was not living up to its promises complied with.

The government is also in peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, and both sides have also agreed to a bilateral ceasefire.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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