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Colombian Senate rejects FARC's call to put off elections


10:23, June 12, 2013

BOGOTA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The Colombian Senate on Tuesday rejected a call by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group, to postpone the May 2014 presidential elections.

"This Congress has defended the political participation of the disarmed rebels, because exchanging bullets for words is essential to achieving peace," Senate President Roy Barreras said in a statement.

"But postponing the electoral schedule is totally unconstitutional and has no chance of being done," he added.

Earlier in the day, the FARC called for postponing the elections for one year to give more time to the ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba, between the rebels and President Juan Manuel Santos' government.

Barreras also ruled out the possibility of calling a constituent assembly, which the rebels proposed as a body to legally make the date change, saying the peace talks should pick up pace.

"I have called on the FARC to speed up the process in Havana, so that it will be this Congress that approves the statutory law that will determine the conditions of their participation in March," he said.

The Colombian government and the FARC, which began peace talks six months ago to end a 50-year conflict, have recently agreed on the initial issue of land reform and rural development.

In addition to the FARC's future political participation, the two sides have to tackle such issues as disarmament, drug trafficking and reparations for victims of their fighting.

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