BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombians are becoming more optimistic about peace negotiations with Marxist rebels although most oppose possible impunity for war crimes, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.
Just over half of those polled believe the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will reach a peace deal to end their 50-year conflict, up eight points from a December survey.
However, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they opposed granting impunity to rebel leaders for war crimes in exchange for a final accord, an increase of 5 percent from the previous survey.
Many Colombians believe rebels who lay down their arms should not be allowed to participate in politics without first serving jail terms for involvement in massacres, rapes, displacements, kidnappings and drug trafficking.
FARC leaders have said repeatedly that they will not serve jail terms.
While nearly 70 percent of those polled said they favored dialogue over a military end to the conflict, 61 percent said the government should not yet halt its offensive, despite the FARC declaring a unilateral ceasefire in December.
Support for President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision to start talks, which wavered during a contentious election campaign last year, was up 10 points to 72 percent. The poll put Santos’ approval rating at 43 percent, the same as in the previous survey.
Negotiators involved in the two-year-old talks, taking place in Cuba, have so far reached partial deals on land reform, political participation for ex-rebels and an end to the illegal drug trade.
Santos has said any peace deal will need to find a balance between finding justice war victims and ending the conflict.
The five-decade-long war has killed 220,000 people and displaced millions.
The poll, conducted through interviews with 1,200 people in five major cities, has a margin of error of 5 percent.
Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown