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, “The unity of Colombians, without distinctions, must be around the noble purpose of a peace cemented on a basis of social justice.
During the course of the campaign for Colombia’s regional elections, 5 candidates have been killed, following the death of Karina García Sierra on Monday. The figure is now the same as that of the 2015 campaign, prior to the peace accords being signed. The continuing violence is proof of the fragility of Colombia’s ‘peace’.
A report published this week by the Electoral Observer Mission in the country showed how 5 candidates in the upcoming regional elections have been killed, and a further 17 have faced violent attacks and threats. Those killed come from a variety of political parties, however, it is unclear who exactly is responsible for many of the attacks.
The new figures come as former FARC combatants slam the Colombian state and right-wing paramilitaries for not fully implementing their end of the 2016 peace accords.
A new dissident split from the FARC, led by former commanders Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich has accused the state of betraying the 2016 agreements, citing that as the motivation for a return to arms by a minority faction of the former FARC leadership.
In their initial statement announcing the split, they said, "Betrayal, perfidy, judicial persecution, political insecurity, the murder of social leaders and ex-combatants, has forced us to take up arms...We announce to the world that the second Marquetalia has begun under the protection of international law that assists all the peoples of the world to rise up in arms against oppression"
The majority of the FARC remain committed to the principles of the 2016 peace accords and condemned the dissidents. However, they also urge the state to fully implement their obligations under the accords. FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño has argued that powerful interests are the only ones invested in continuing violence, commenting, "unfortunately, there still remains a sector of this country’s ruling class that wants to prevent the words from being heard and that still uses violence as a way of resolving conflicts."
Since the 2016 Peace accords were signed, the FARC and 95% of its ex-combatants have complied with their obligations to lay down arms and enter politics peacefully. However, the state and far-right paramilitaries have failed to meet their end of the peace deal. Over 160 FARC members and at least 627 social activists have been killed since the accords were signed.
The regional elections will be held on the 27th of October. Among those standing are a number of allies of former right-wing President Alvaro Uribe who recently called on the government to scrap the 2016 peace deal. Among them is Anibal Gaviria, who polls predict is on course to win the governorship of Antioquia, the second-largest regional economy in Colombia and an area hit hard by recent violence. Though little hope that violence be alleviated, Gaviria and his family have links to far-right paramilitaries and made their fortune by taking the lands of campesinos displaced by those same armed groups.
Despite, the strain placed on the peace accords, the FARC remain firm in the commitment to peace. Speaking on Monday, leader Rodrigo Londoño said, “The unity of Colombians, without distinctions, must be around the noble purpose of a peace cemented on a basis of social justice. We cannot spend another 50 years in useless confrontations, future generations will not forgive us.”