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Colombian FARC rebels declare truce for elections

Colombia's FARC rebel group said on Friday it will observe a unilateral truce during the country's May 25 elections as a gesture of goodwill.

HAVANA: Colombia's FARC rebel group said on Friday it will observe a unilateral truce during the country's May 25 elections as a gesture of goodwill.

The FARC said the truce will run from May 20 through May 28, and will also include the forces of Colombia's second largest guerrilla group, the ELN.

Pablo Catatumbo, an FARC delegate to peace talks in Havana, said rebel units were under orders to halt all offensive operations against the Colombian military or infrastructure during that period.

"The insurgency doesn't believe in the Colombian electoral system," he said. "Nevertheless, we believe that a national clamour (for peace) should be heeded.

"Besides, we do it as a light of hope for a bilateral ceasefire," he said.

The FARC, Colombia's largest guerrilla group, has observed temporary, unilateral cease-fires on two previous occasions since the start of peace talks with the government in November 2012.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who is running for re-election, has repeatedly refused to follow suit, and on Tuesday reaffirmed his determination to pursue the rebels militarily until they sign a peace agreement.

This would be the first time the ELN, or National Liberation Army, which is not a party to the peace talks, joins the FARC in a truce.

Catatumbo said the FARC's leader, Timoleon Jimenez, and the ELN's Nicolas Rodriguez had agreed on the pause in the fighting.

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