Colombian rebels have handed over almost all weapons

Frederick Owens
June 27, 2017

"Today, Colombia received the best news in 50 years: FARC leave their weapons and words will be their only form of expression", Manuel Santos said in a statement on Tuesday.

Colombia's FARC rebels have formally completed a disarmament process to end half a century of war against the state, the United Nations said.

The accord eventually failed, paving the way for a decadelong bloodletting in which as many as 3,000 members of a FARC-aligned political party were gunned down.

The UN said 7,132 arms have been stored in secure containers and a small number of weapons will remain in the hands of some rebels for security provision at the camps until they are closed on August 1.

The monitors said they had also found and emptied 77 out of the Farc's 900 arms caches hidden around the countryside.

President Juan Manuel Santos travels here Tuesday to join Rodrigo Londono, top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, for a ceremony marking the conclusion of the disarmament process by 7,000 rebels nationwide.

Presidential elections are scheduled for next March and as stipulated in the peace accord signed previous year, the FARC will receive five seats each in the Senate and Congress, helping to cement the group's evolution from a military to a political force.

The deal seeks to end more than five decades of conflict and negotiations between Colombia's largest left-wing rebel group and the government.

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Weapons "fulfilled a function at one time, but today we are making a political decision and we no longer need them", senior FARC commander Mauricio Jaramillo told AFP.

The peace accord, first signed in November, was at first narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum before it was redrafted and pushed through Congress.

Critics such as conservative political leader Alvaro Uribe said the peace accord was too lenient on FARC members. It drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

The historic feat places the nation one step closer to turning a page on Latin America's longest-running conflict that left at least 250,000 people dead, another 60,000 disappeared and millions displaced.

The ELN started talks with the government in February, but has been blamed for ongoing confrontations with state forces.

Three women were killed in a bombing at a crowded shopping center in Bogota on June 17. Those who do not face up to 20 years in jail.

On that date, the FARC is expected to deliver a list to the government of properties belonging to it to allow victims of the conflict to benefit from the sale and redistribution of the lands.

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