FARC says it has suspended weapon purchases in lead up to peace deal

Bogota, Nov 11 (IANS) The top leader of Colombia’s leftist FARC guerrilla group has announced that he had ordered rebels to suspend the purchases of weapons, in a move apparently aimed at paving the way for a final peace deal with the government.

The head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, also known as “Timochenko”, said via his Twitter account on Tuesday that he issued the order at the end of September.

“On September 30, 2015, I gave the order to all structures to suspend arms and ammunition purchases,” Timochenko said, addressing the message to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos.

The FARC and government forces, engaged in armed conflict for more than five decades, are on track to a final peace treaty following nearly three years of negotiations initiated in November 2012.

The rebel leader ended the message with the hashtag “#DeescalateNow”, referring to winding down fighting on both sides.

The two sides have already de-escalated tensions to some degree, with the FARC declaring unilateral ceasefires and the government pledging to suspended aerial bombardments, though fighting on the ground continues.

Timochenko and Santos shook hands during a historic meeting on September 23 in Havana, Cuba, host of the talks. After that, they announced a key accord on justice issues, one of the main hindrances to the peace process, and an agreement on reaching a peace deal by March 2016.

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