Created: 10/12/1991

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As ilie peace talks reconvene in Mexico today, both sides seem commirted to budding on the progress made last month in Ne* York The Mexico round will probably last ten days and could lead lo an agreeineni on an interim cease-fire,inal ceasefire is not expected until the end of the year. The main obstacle to be overcome is deter-muiing ihe sequenceease-fire,reforms, and miliiary reductions. Mosi other issues are expected io be deferred for resolution by COPAZ (National Cotrimission for the Consolidaiion of Peace) and by other bodies envisaged in the New York accords

Setting prtortlkas

The item* to be discussed in Mexico were agreed on in New York, but the priority for El Salvador's govenirnent will beeasefire agreement, while the FMLN will insist that previously agreed reforms (on human rights, elections, and the judiciary) be implementedease-fire takes place. The FMLN knows the government will pushease-fire, but fears that rebel fieldmay not comply unless the FMLN can "saveor example by obtaining enactment of the constirutional reforms.

In one of the "secret" annexes lo the New York accords, the governmeni and FMLN agreed ihai military reductions wouldease-fire: the military, however, is reluc-lant lo see reductions until the FMLNdisurms. Both sides now seem resigned to having atrief period of armed peace. Though its duration continues io bethis acknowledgementarrowing of differences between the negotiators, and may open the wayinal cease-fire.

Th* COPAZ problam

The New York accords established lite mechanism for COPAZ to be composed of members of govenvment. mdiiary parties, and ihe FMLN. it would plememaiion of any agreeineni legislation, and actegotiating body It is not clear whai authority COPAZ wul have io enforce its decisions, however, or how the job of oversight will be divided between COPAZ and ONUSAL. the UN body now in place io oversee agreements already in force.

The New York agreement contains other ambiguities: the FMLN has interpreted the accords to mean thai the left-wutg Democratic Convergence coalition will get two representatives on COPAZ. one for each parry, but the government insists the intent was for the CD to gel one vote, intelligence suggests the governmeni and the FMLN may workompromise involvingalternates.

Another ambiguity is lhat although COPAZ is supposed to come into existence onlyease-fire is signed, it is assigned to pcrfumi several duties (including laying the groundworkivilian police force) before the cease-fire is signed. Initially. President Cristiani's ARENA party had been opposed to allowing FMLN members to enter Salvador to work on COPAZ. but this problem may be sidestepped by holding COPAZ meetingseutral site such as the airportoreign embassy in El Salvador. Both parties seem disposed to compromise on these technical difficulties

Troublesome Issues remain

The FMLN continues to plan military bc-tivuies, to convince the government ihji ihe FMLN is negotiatingosition nfirritating ihe military amiess willing to compromise reform. The armed forces may be willinc i" accept direction from Cristiani couccunm: FMLN political participation and soii-ilbut they willard line on issues

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