Colombia publishes parts of draft peace agreement

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia's government and main rebel movement are releasing parts of a draft peace agreement to deflect criticism that the country's democratic institutions are being redrawn behind their countrymen's backs.

The 65 pages of documents published Wednesday come from three of the six agenda items on which the two sides have already reached agreement: agrarian reform, political participation for demobilized rebels, and how to jointly combat illicit drugs.

Opponents of the talks have accused President Juan Manuel Santos of overlooking atrocities committed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and ceding their leaders too much power in closed-door talks in Cuba.

Santos said Wednesday that by being more transparent, negotiators hope to counter what he called misleading information spread by opponents of the talks.

"There's all sorts of speculation about what was agreed," Santos told journalists in New York, where he has held a frenetic schedule of meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to rally international support for the peace talks. "Some of the speculation has a clear goal of misleading public opinion."

The documents released appear to contain few surprises and a large number of unresolved details.

On the sensitive question of how FARC members will make a transition to a political party, both sides agreed to temporarily set aside a still to be determined number of seats in Congress for former guerrillas and activists representing rural areas hardest hit by 50 years of fighting.

Leon Valencia, a conflict analyst and former guerrilla, said the release of the documents demonstrates both sides are increasingly confident a deal will be struck even though a number of thorny obstacles remain, among them implementing a ceasefire and holding rebels accountable for human rights abuses.

"It's clear both sides think the process is on solid enough ground so that it can withstand scrutiny and controversy," Valencia said.

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