By Richard McColl
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday announced the commencement of cease-fire against the FARC beginning next week.
“With what has taken place yesterday, where everything is agreed, I want to inform all Colombians that, as the head of state and as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, I have ordered the definitive cease-fire from 00.00 on Monday Aug. 29,” Santos said in an address to the nation.
The news of the cease-fire comes one day after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government announced an end to decades of war in an agreement reached after four years of talks in Havana.
The deal will be put to a nationwide referendum Oct. 2, needing 13 percent support to pass.
Santos said it is important the country votes on the agreement.
“We were not legally obliged to do so, but it’s a moral duty, because I believe in democracy and because the people should have the final word,” he said.
This bilateral cease-fire is part of the measures agreed to during peace talks that will continue to gradually scale back the conflict until weapons are no longer in use.
In December 2014 the FARC announced its first unilateral cease-fire and, in a show of good faith, the following March the Colombian government suspended aerial bombings of guerrilla targets.
If approved by voters, the peace agreement would bring to an end to more than 50 years of a conflict that has displaced more than 5 million residents and led to the deaths of upwards of 220,000 victims.
Following his address, Santos submitted to Congress the text of the formal agreement with the FARC for legislative approval as required by law.