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FARC marks end to ceasefire

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iol news pic EOC03_COLOMBIA-FARC-DRUGS_1128_11

REUTERS

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) lead negotiator Ivan Marquez (R) walks next to fellow negotiator Pablo Catatumbo as they arrive for peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana. FARC said it had fulfilled its 30-day unilateral ceasefire, squashing speculation it would prolong the suspension of hostilities until after upcoming elections.REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa

Havana - Colombia's FARC rebel group said Wednesday it had fulfilled its 30-day unilateral ceasefire, squashing speculation it would prolong the suspension of hostilities until after upcoming elections.

The one-month truce for the end-of-year holiday season lasted from December 15 to midnight Tuesday.

“The final moment of the unilateral ceasefire has arrived” said Pablo Catabumbo, one of the guerrilla delegates in peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana.

“Some sources have been speculating that the FARC had decided to prolong the ceasefire until elections,” which will be held in March for the legislature and May for the presidency, Catabumbo said, but he said that was not the case.

Tuesday marked the end of the FARC's second unilateral ceasefire during the course of the talks. The Colombian government both times rejected suspending hostilities on their end while negotiating an end to the half-century armed conflict, Latin America's longest-running.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos said that during previous attempts at negotiating peace, the FARC used bilateral ceasefires to reinforce its military.

The FARC's earlier unilateral ceasefire, which lasted 60 days, began one day after peace talks began in Havana on November 19, 2012.

The government delegation, led by former vice president Humberto de la Calle, did not comment on the end of the ceasefire.

Talks between the two sides resumed Monday after a three-week break, with the FARC and government delegates negotiating over a FARC proposal to regulate cultivation and sale of illegal crops like coca leaf, opium poppies and marijuana.

Illegal drugs are one of six points on the agenda for the negotiations.

Founded in 1964, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is Colombia's largest rebel group, with an estimated 7 000 to 8 000 fighters.

Sapa-AFP


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