Colombia FARC rebels complete disarmament

Luis Acosta
FARC handed over almost all weapons, disarmament nearly complete in Colombia, UN says
Author

28 June, 2017

United Nations monitors "today stored away the entirety of the FARC's registered individual arms", except for some that were exempted for transitional security at demobilization camps, the body said yesterday in a statement.

The move carried out by Colombia's biggest rebel group under a 2016 peace accord brings Latin America's oldest civil conflict close to a complete end.

A symbolic ceremony marking the end of the historic disarmament process was held on Tuesday and attended by FARC top commander Rodrigo Londono and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a Nobel Prize victor for his role in negotiating the peace with the guerilla group.

As part of the accord, numerous former rebels will avoid prison as they transition into civilian life, and FARC will transform itself into a political party.

Army soldiers arrive to guard the Mariana Paez demobilization zone, one of many rural camps where FARC rebel fighters are making their transition to civilian life, one day ahead of an event with President Juan Manuel Santos in Buenavista, Colombia, Monday, June 26, 2017. The accord had at first been narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum a year ago before it was redrafted and pushed through congress.

Conservative opponents of the peace deal, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, have questioned whether the FARC movement has turned over its entire arsenal.

The conflict drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

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President Santos is now trying to strike a similar deal with the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second-largest left-wing rebel group.

But the process has been blighted by ongoing violence involving other armed groups in recent weeks.

Santos signed an initial peace accord with the FARC on September 26 in an elaborate ceremony attended by several heads of state, but voters rejected the deal a week later in a referendum by a razor-thin margin.

That excluded some arms that were exempted for transitional security at demobilization camps until August 1. The rifles will be melted down and turned into three monuments in Colombia, New York and Cuba, which hosted peace talks.

Some of them will get amnesties or reduced sentences for crimes committed during the conflict.

FARC was formed in 1964 as the military wing of Colombia's Communist Party. The FARC has pledged to use its assets to compensate victims. The accord promises land, credit lines and basic services for rural communities, with millions of dollars of investment.


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