Colombian rebels suspend peace talks after referendum proposal

FARC Commander Pablo Catatumbo (C) reads a document to announce a pause in dialogue with the Colombian government at Convention Palace of Havana, on August 23, 2013. Photo: AFP
Colombia\’s largest guerrilla army FARC is suspending peace talks with the government due to President Juan Manuel Santos\’ refusal to call an assembly to modify the constitution.
"In light of this new circumstance, the FARC\’s peace delegation has decided to make a pause in the talks to centre itself exclusively on the implications of the government proposal," FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo said on Friday, reading out a statement in Havana.
President Manuel Santos announced on Thursday that he was submitting legislation to Congress that would require a referendum to be held on any peace agreement reached with the leftist rebels.
The peace talks in Cuba began last November, and it is the first time either side has broken off negotiations other than for planned recesses.
The latest round was focusing on the eventual participation of the rebels in Colombian politics.
Formed in the 1960s, it is the oldest active guerrilla group in the Western Hemisphere and it is believed to have about 8,000 armed fighters.
A government commission last month estimated that about 220,000 people have lost their lives in Latin America\’s oldest armed conflict. Other estimates rise as high as 600,000.
Source: Agencies
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