The Colombian government and the country's FARC rebel group said here Wednesday they reached partial agreement on the issue of the guerrillas' participation in politics, the second item on the agenda of the peace process launched a year ago.
The agreement "constitutes a democratic opening in the context of the end of the conflict," the two sides said in a statement read by representatives of Cuba and Norway, which are acting as guarantors for the talks.
The accord is the second the negotiators have reached - after a partial land-reform deal hammered out in May - since the peace talks began on Nov. 19, 2012, in Cuba.
If a definitive peace accord is reached, the resolution on political participation would create special conditions over a transitional period for new movements that become political parties, as could be the case with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has fought a decades-old revolution against a succession of Colombian governments.
Specific decisions on the FARC's transformation into a legal political party, however, are to be discussed later when the two sides address the matter of the insurgents' demobilization and return to civilian life, the government's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, said in a subsequent statement.
The agreement also states that a nationwide gathering is to be held in which a commission will be tasked with establishing "guarantees" for opposition parties.
The question of guarantees is a crucial one for the guerrillas after thousands of members of the leftist Patriotic Union party - founded by the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party in the mid-1980s during an earlier peace process - were killed by right-wing death squads.
Negotiators representing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' administration and the FARC on Wednesday ended the 16th cycle of their talks in Havana with the announcement of the political participation accord.
The two sides said the next round of negotiations will begin on Nov. 18 and focus on finding a "solution to the problem of illegal drugs" in the Andean nation, one of the world's largest cocaine producers. EFE