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  • Peace-themed graffiti in Bogota, Colombia, reads

    Peace-themed graffiti in Bogota, Colombia, reads "Peace is ours." | Photo: AFP

Published 8 March 2016

The final stage of the peace process will focus on ending the armed conflict with a bilateral cease-fire and disarmament of FARC rebel groups.

Just weeks ahead of the self-imposed deadline to reach a final peace deal in Colombia, the FARC and the government have launched a new round of talks in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday focused on the bilateral cease-fire and other end of conflict issues, including the laying down of arms, demobilization, and social reintegration of former rebels.

“We can say that we are already feeling the end of confrontations,” said FARC spokesperson Carlos Antonio Lozada, days after announcing that the rebel group is close to finalizing a definitive cease-fire with the government.

The government is also hopeful that peace is near. As the latest round of talks kicked off, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said the government looks forward to moving on to building lasting peace.

Outstanding peace process issues of the bilateral cease-fire and rebels’ laying down of arms will be monitored by the United Nations and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States or CELAC.

But despite the historic agreements already reached and the fact that the process has already successfully reached the final stages, the peace talks are not without challenges.

IN DEPTH: The Colombian Peace Process Explained

Disagreements still remain over the method of ratifying the agreements reached in Havana with the Colombian people. While the government has pursued the idea of a referendum, the FARC have suggested holding a national constituent assembly.

Due to delays in the process and critical issues still not agreed upon, it is not clear whether the two sides of the conflict will be able to reach a final deal by the self-imposed deadline of March 23.

Government negotiators have said they are working hard to make as much progress as possible by the deadline, while FARC representatives have said they don’t plan on “compromising dates.”

The peace accord will bring an end to over 50 years of armed internal conflict in Colombia that has claimed over 220,000 lives and millions of other victims.

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