BOGOTA - Colombia's leftist FARC rebels declared a ceasefire on Saturday from June 9 to 30, a period that will cover a run-off presidential election being contested mainly over how to end five decades of war with the guerrillas.

The three-week ceasefire was announced in an open letter posted on the group's website and written to right-wing presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga who has been skeptical about peace talks with the group begun by his rival and incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos.

"We want to tell the country, through you (Zuluaga), our decision to declare another unilateral ceasefire for the occasion of the second round of elections to the Presidency of the Republic," said the letter signed by FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko.

Zuluaga is the anointed candidate of popular ex-president Alvaro Uribe, who led an unprecedented US-backed military assault against the FARC that is estimated to have halved their ranks to around 8,000.

President Santos began negotiations with the FARC in the Cuban capital Havana in late 2012 with an agenda now roughly half complete. The FARC are still combating government troops in their rural hideouts, having rejected a unilateral ceasefire unless the government reciprocates.


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