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Colombia asks UN to extend peace verification mission for 1 more year

COLOMBIA UN | 12 de julio de 2019

Bogota, Jul 12 (efe-epa).- Colombia's president on Friday asked the United Nations Security Council to extend the UN's peace process verification mission in the Andean nation for one more year.

Ivan Duque said the UN's support was crucial to the process of reincorporating former guerrilla fighters into society.

"I presented the president of the Security Council with a letter confirming that we want the (United Nations Verification) Mission's support for another year," Duque told reporters after meeting with a 15-member Council delegation visiting the Andean nation.

"Their work, their scrutiny, their support is vital to the success of this reincorporation process," he said.

After more than four years of negotiations, the administration headed by Duque's predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group signed a historic peace deal in November 2016 that brought an end to a decades-old armed conflict.

Under the terms of the peace deal, the UN was tasked with verifying implementation of the pact and the FARC was allowed to make the transition to a political party, which uses the same acronym but now is known as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force.

The president of the UN Security Council, Peruvian Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, said in that regard that the delegation had a very productive meeting with Duque in which they learned about "the advances in the process of implementing the peace accord (and) the challenges that still remain."

"It's also been an opportunity to receive Colombia's commitment to this process and reiterate that the Security Council is united with respect to the peace process in Colombia, which continues to be not only a model for Latin America but also for the entire international community," Meza-Cuadra said.

Duque informed the Security Council about the challenges his administration has faced in implementing the accord such as the murders of numerous members of the FARC, which says at least 140 ex-fighters have been killed since Nov. 24, 2016.

"There have been murders of former combatants. And just as with most of the cases of (killings of) social leaders, the Attorney General's Office determined that the presence of illegal armed groups such as the ELN (a leftist guerrilla group that continues to wage an armed struggle against the state), the Caparros and the Gulf Clan crime gangs, among others, were behind these cases," the president said.

The spate of killings has revived memories of the Union Patriotica, a party founded in 1985 as the FARC rebels were engaged in peace talks with the government and exploring the idea of abandoning armed struggle in favor of electoral politics.

The UP fared respectably at the polls in 1986, provoking a campaign of terror by paramilitaries and some elements of the security forces that resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,000 party members and the destruction of Union Patriotica as a political force.

The Security Council delegation also will hold meetings Friday in Bogota with members of civil society, the United Nations System and the FARC, now a communist political party that under the terms of the peace deal has 10 automatic seats in Congress and can compete in elections.

The Council also will meet with representatives of government entities; the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which was established as part of the 2016 peace deal with the FARC and tasked with investigating and adjudicating crimes committed during Colombia's decades-old armed conflict; the Truth Commission; and Congress' peace commissions.

On Saturday, the delegation will visit one of the Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration (TATRs), where they will speak with former guerrilla fighters who are being reintegrated into society after laying down their weapons.

In that regard, the United Kingdom's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Jonathan Guy Allen, said the meetings will allow the delegation to hear the concerns and aspirations of those involved in implementing the accord. EFE-EPA

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