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Colombia aims for peace deal with Segunda Marquetalia within two years

In World
June 15, 2024

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) -Colombia hopes to sign and begin to implement a peace deal with the Segunda Marquetalia armed group before current President Gustavo Petro leaves office in just over two years, the head of the government’s negotiating team said on Friday.

Segunda Marquetalia is a dissident faction of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels whose leaders initially agreed to a 2016 peace deal, but returned to arms citing unfulfilled promises three years later.

Peace talks between the group, which has 1,751 members, and the government are set to begin in Caracas, Venezuela on June 24. Petro is trying to end six decades of armed conflict that has killed at least 450,000 people.

The government wants “a serious, consistent, negotiation, without shocks, which in the shortest time possible achieves definitive results for the country,” head negotiator Armando Novoa told Reuters.

“If possible, we want a signed accord with Segunda Marquetalia before the current government ends … before two years are out,” he said. “We are moderately optimistic.”

The talks will not include a ceasefire, Novoa said, unlike negotiations with other armed groups, because Segunda Marquetalia promised upon its founding not to attack the armed forces or kidnap civilians.

“We aren’t talking about a bilateral ceasefire, but about de-escalation measures,” he said.

Future negotiation cycles could take place in other locations, including Colombia, he added.

The peace process with Segunda Marquetalia faces legal hurdles because its leaders first backed and then abandoned the FARC deal, potentially making them eligible only to surrender. But Novoa said he was sure a solution that respects the law is possible.

Some experts have floated amnesties for rebel leaders, but Novoa said that would have to be examined and hinges on positive results at the negotiations.

The government is holding separate talks with National Liberation Army rebels and the Estado Mayor Central armed group, a former FARC faction that never signed the 2016 deal.

Armed groups fight security forces and each other for control of territory and lucrative illegal industries such as drug trafficking and illicit gold mining.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime AcostaWriting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Rod Nickel)

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