Colombia’s Santos replaces military leaders as he pursues FARC peace
BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has shuffled command of the country’s military as the South American country pursues peace talks to end more than five decades of violence with the FARC guerrilla group.
During an official announcement in Bogota on Tuesday, Santos said the replacements were typical in command circles of Colombia’s military.
“The changes are normal, necessary procedures, procedures which are characteristic of our armed forces. We’re going to make our changes to the military leadership, some changes in the command quarters of our military forces,” he announced.
General Alberto Mejia Ferrero takes command of the army, Vice Admiral Leonardo Santamaria of the navy and General Carlos Bueno of the air force.
“Command of our army passes to General Alberto Mejia Ferrero, command of our navy passes to Vice Admiral Leonardo Santamaria, command of our air force passes to General Carlos Bueno,” added Santos.
Analysts say the shake up comes as Colombia moves to a post-conflict scenario with its largest guerilla group, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
Since starting talks in November 2012, government and rebel negotiators have reached partial accords on three of five agenda points: land reform, the political future of FARC and an end to illegal drug trade.
Still under discussion are victim reparations and FARC’s demobilisation.
To support efforts, Colombia rebels announced they are prepared to call a month-long unilateral ceasefire to boost peace talks which have been threatened by battlefield violence in recent months.
President Santos has not yet given a sign he would reciprocate. -Reuters