Deadlock on El Salvador Situation May Be Broken

UN Chronicle, December 1991 | Go to article overview
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Deadlock on El Salvador Situation May Be Broken

The Security Council on 30 September reaffirmed its strong support for the urgent completion of the peace process in El Salvador and expressed its readiness to support the implementation of a settlement. The Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) were urged at the next negotiating round to proceed urgently in reaching a cease-fire and an overall settlement of the armed conflict.

In unanimously adopting resolution 714 (1991), the Council also urged both sides to exercise maximum and continuing restraint, particularly with respect to the civilian population, in order to create the best climate for a successful conclusion of the negotiations.

Both sides were called upon to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador, known by its Spanish acronym ONUSAL.

The Council action came just days after Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced that the Government of El Salvador and FMLN had signed on 25 September a "broad agreement on conditions and guarantees for the reintegration into society of members of the FMLN".

"It is my firm expectation that this agreement will break the deadlock in the negotiations", the Secretary-General stated.

Efforts on all pending substantive matters and a "brief, dynamic cease-fire" would resume shortly, he added. "The goal set when I asked President (Alfredo) Cristiani and the five members of the General Command of the FMLN to meet with me for consultations at United Nations Headquarters has thus been met--the Gordian knot has been untied", the Secretary-General concluded.

A series of meetings began at Headwuarters on 16 September between President Cristiani and his delegations, five FMLN commanders and the Secretary-General and his Personal Representative for Central America, Alvaro de Soto. It climaxed an 18-month-old negotiating process under UN auspices.

The negotiations began in September 1989 when the two parties agreed to initiate a dialogue aimed at ending the armed conflict in El Salvador by political means.

Under the 25 September agreement (to be known as the New York Agreement), which complements earlier accords on human rights protection and political reform, the parties agreed that:

* The National Commission for the Consolidation of Peace, known by its Spanish acronym COPAZ, will oversee the carrying-out of the accords. It will consists of two members each from the Government and the FMLN, with another six members named by political parties holding seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Roman Catholic Church and ONUSAL will have the role of observers.

* The armed forces will be "purified" on the basis of evaluation of its members by an ad hoc commission. Two army officers would take part in the deliberations, without a vote.

* In principle, the size of the army would be reduced, although the numbers and details were still to be negotiated.

FMLN members would be able to seek appointment to a new civilian-controlled police force without discrimination, and the Government would protect the right of families to hold on to the land they had occupied.

President Cristiani predicted an end to El Salvador's 11-year-old civil war by the end of 1991. He said only a handful of issues, mainly having to do with the reform and reduction of the armed forces, remained undecided before a cease-fire. According to him, there was already consensus on some of them.

"We have been able to clear the road so that the process can proceed with a lot more speed and agility", he stated, adding that the remaining issues to be addressed constitute a "compressed agenda" of difficult but soluble disputes.

Schafik Handal, one of five FMLN commanders, said the agreement was of "great transcendence", constituting "a new victory for democracy in El Salvador". It represented social and political advances made possible by the civil war.

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