Delay threatens Salvador peace: Ruben Zamora, a prominent left-wing politician, talks to Elizabeth Nash about the precarious state of the deal signed to end the 12-year-old civil war

EL SALVADOR, which has been labouring for nine months to implement a UN-brokered peace accord, may not meet the deal's most crucial deadline - for the demobilisation of guerrilla forces - by 31 October as planned.

The left-wing leader, Ruben Zamora, vice-president of the legislative assembly and a pivotal figure in the negotiated peace process warned in London this week: 'No one is saying so publicly, but we have to recognise that 31 October is a date impossible to fulfil.'

Mr Zamora, once a Christian Democrat minister in a short-lived reformist government in 1980, fled into a seven-year exile after his brother was gunned down at home and his own name appeared on a death list. He returned to El Salvador in 1987, was elected to parliament in March last year and now leads the Democratic Convergence, a left-wing bloc.

'If we delay the demobilisation of the FMLN (the coalition of guerrilla groups), then we delay the clean-up of the armed forces, the separation of the police from the army and the integration of military forces into civilian life,' he said, 'and these military matters take up 85 per cent of the peace accord document.'

The peace accord signed in January, which marked the end of El Salvador's 12-year civil war, set out an ambitious timetable to take the country from a state of war through to a ceasefire, and eventually to elections in March 1994. It was a moment that Mr Zamora, a man who conveys the impression simultaneously of passionate urgency and infinite patience, had been awaiting for 20 years.

A few months' delay would not derail the delicate peace process, he said, but a delay of more than six months could scupper the agreement. It would affect the election timetable, which is dictated by the constitution. 'Everybody agrees that the FMLN cannot go into an election campaign still under arms. And we can't change the election date without constitutional interference.'

Mr Zamora blames President Alfredo Cristiani's conservative Arena government for dragging its heels from the moment the peace accord was signed. 'The government cannot reject the agreement or say it will not implement it, but it has tried to go as slowly as it can,' he said. The FMLN, whose military invincibility brought Arena to the negotiating table in the first place, are reluctant to lay down their arms before the military have fulfilled their promise to reform.

Despite the race against time, Mr Zamora believes the agreement will, in the end, be fulfilled. 'The government were reluctant because they believed, mistakenly, that the FMLN would just fall apart after the ceasefire, but they won't disarm unless they get what they want. The government now recognises this, and I think they will start to stick to the timetable.'

The United Nations Secretary- General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, hailed the Salvador peace accord as a 'negotiated revolution'. This was an exaggeration, Mr Zamora said. 'Negotiation is not a revolution. We have not achieved a revolution. But we have achieved the possibility to continue the struggle and make advances.'

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: Sabotage, a meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - Lewes / Brighton

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

PE Graduate?

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Are you a PE graduate looking for a ...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £135 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Key Stage ...

Humanities Teacher

£100 - £150 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Permanent Teacher of Humaniti...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?