Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L), the head of Colombia's FARC guerilla, Timoleon Jimenez, (C) and Cuban President Raul Castro (R), during the signing of the ceasefire between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla on June 23, 2016
Havana (AFP) - The signing of a definitive ceasefire between Colombia's government and the FARC rebels caps three and a half years of negotiations in Cuba and opens the way to sealing a once-and-for-all peace deal.
The ceasefire is the fifth of six major points to be agreed upon through the negotiations.
While the outstanding point has to do with how the final peace deal should be ratified, there are other questions that have yet to be resolved:
- Agricultural reform
In May 2013, the FARC struck agreement with the government over land distribution, access to loans, and setting up basic services in what used to be conflict zones.
- Drug trafficking
Since the 1980s, drug trafficking fueled and worsened the conflict. In May 2014, the FARC reached an accord with the government to get rid of illegal coca crops in its area of influence. The authorities continue to combat narcotrafficking but also offer alternative sources of revenue to former coca farmers, and treat addiction as a public health issue.
Some big questions unresolved:
- Politics, not fighting
The FARC is to give up its weapons to become a political party. In November 2013, the rebels signed a deal giving them legal guarantees and security to participate in elections.
What remains to be done is an agreement on FARC's demand that it has lawmakers from its ranks appointed by decree.
- Victim compensation
The Colombian conflict has left 260,000 dead, 45,000 missing and 6.9 million people displaced, according to official figures. In December 2015 both sides announced one of the most complex agreements in the peace talks: what compensation to give victims and what punishment for perpetrators of serious crimes.
Under the deal, special courts are to judge guerrillas and state agents implicated in crimes linked to the conflict.
But the process of naming judges for the courts has not yet been finalized.
- Life after the gun?
The ceasefire the FARC and government signed on Thursday made definitive an unofficial truce observed since July 2015, but the exact date it comes into effect still has not been given. It's the first time since the collapse of a bilateral 1984-1987 ceasefire that the FARC has committed itself to laying down arms.
The end of hostilities includes a UN-supervised disarmament of the rebels, safety guarantees for ex-fighters and a government promise to combat paramilitary armed groups that had countered the rebels.
However a clause on a "return to civilian life" underpinning the FARC's transformation to a political party is not believed to have been settled yet, according to Colombian media.
- Ratification of the accord
To work out the ins and outs of a final peace deal, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wants a referendum. The FARC had for a long time demanded a Constituent Assembly but recently said it was open to a plebiscite. The result would go to fixing the parameters of this final step.