On Sunday, President Santos tweeted that negotiators were making an important step in the advancing agreements with the FARC. Shortly after, a bilateral ceasefire was agreed upon between the government and the insurgency, as long as the FARC upholds their unilateral ceasefire. Commencing 20 July (the day that the FARC declared its commencement of a unilateral ceasefire), the ceasefire will initially last a month, with both the government and FARC to tentatively agreeing to extend it for another four months.
Whilst not a surprising move given mounting international pressure, the last time a bilateral ceasefire had been agreed upon in negotiations was those commenced under the Betancur administration in 1982. However, this can be seen as a major step towards easing tensions between the Colombian government and the FARC, and a commitment to the de-escalation of conflict. Furthermore, this demonstrates that peace talks are being accelerated with both parties pushing for a political solution.
A copy of the press release regarding the bilateral ceasefire can be found here. The stated objectives of such a move include to strengthen the confidence of the Colombian population in the peace process and trust amongst delegations; to speed up the construction of agreements on all remaining aspects of the Agenda of General Agreement, and to create the conditions for the implementation of the ceasefire and Bilateral and Final Hostilities, the third point of the ‘End of Conflict’ agenda item. Commitment to a bilateral ceasefire is a positive move in keeping negotiations on track, and hopefully all FARC Fronts will abide to the conditions of a unilateral ceasefire.