FARC, ELN guerrillas call for end to political violence in Colombia
HAVANA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's top guerrilla groups on Thursday called for an end to political violence in the South American nation as well as the complete implementation of a peace process that will end over 50 years of armed conflict.
In a joint press conference in Havana, Cuba, the top leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), Rodrigo Londono and Nicolas Rodriguez, respectively, said Colombia must undergo a "real democratic" process that includes an end to political violence.
"Both guerrillas have the common will to build a lasting peace in Colombia. It will be with combined efforts that deep transformations of our society based on social justice and dignity can take place," said Londono while reading a joint statement.
Both organizations also pledged to reach a political solution to the armed conflict.
Londono, also known as Timochenko, urged Colombia's poorest communities to continue "defending" the peace pact and their territory against persecution by alleged government security forces and paramilitary groups.
"We truly believe the majority of Colombians support the end to the conflict as we continue to advance in the implementation of the peace agreement signed last year as well as the talks being held between the ELN and the government," added Londono.
The ELN and FARC also demanded Bogota show its political will to put an end to irregular or paramilitary groups which, according to the guerrillas, have killed several social organization leaders in the last few months.
"Until now, we do not believe the Colombian government has the will to confront these groups. It is definitely an issue that threatens the peace of our country. Peace cannot only be rhetoric, it has to be demonstrated with facts and actions," said Rodriguez.
Both guerrillas have held several meetings in Havana this week with the permission of the Colombian government in order to discuss the peace process in the South American nation, including joint strategies to further advance a political solution to the armed conflict.
In September 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and top FARC commander, Rodrigo Londono, signed a peace deal in Cartagena in front of 15 Latin American presidents and then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
However, the agreement was rejected by over 50 percent of Colombian voters in a referendum.
After two months of further discussions, both sides changed several issues of the initial peace agreement and had it approved by the Colombian Parliament.
By the end of May, FARC members are expected to have finished handing over their weapons to UN officials and will continue the process of reinserting themselves into society and political life.
Currently, the ELN is set for a second round of discussions with Santos' government in Ecuador on May 16.