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U.S. Department of State
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Call for prayer for Colombia a year on from peace agreement

by Eno Adeogun

Despite the fact that a revised deal was later agreed upon between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - known as FARC, Colombian priest Fr John Jairo Montoya said the success of the agreement has been limited.

He said many Colombians are uncertain about how the principles of the agreement will be interpreted and implemented.

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)

Fr Montoya explained: "Some people don't trust the result of this peace agreement, which shows us that our society is very divided about this peace accord. It's very sad but it's our reality."

There are however positive signs of calm in the country following the National Liberation Army (ELN) - which is Colombia's largest active rebel group - agreeing to a temporary ceasefire with the authorities - for the first time in more than 50 years.

The temporary ceasefire agreed on 1st October between the ELN and the Colombian army is seen as the most important step taken since peace talks between the two sides began in neighbouring Ecuador in February.

Fr Montoya acknowledged that the ceasefire is an important step in the peace process, but said in order for peace to reign, social inequalities need to be addressed.

He told Premier: "The economic and social rights are the forgotten issues during the war in Colombia. Now is a time to improve our economic, social, environmental rights.

"I think the peace process and the improvements of this peace agreement must affect these desires that people have - improve their rights, their rights to education, their rights of health, living expenses. I think when we turn out this case of war in Colombia, we can create better conditions for economic and social rights in Colombia."

Officials from the Catholic Church, UN monitors, government and rebel representatives have been sent to the country to observe conditions on the ground.

AP Photo/Fernando Vergara

The next round of talks is set to take place in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito on 23rd October.

Fr Montoya told Premier the South American nation needs our prayers.

He said: "Pray for Colombia. Pray for the victims.

"Pray people can recover from this painful moment in Colombia... pray we can achieve peace in Colombia."

Listen to Fr John Jairo Montoya speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun

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