UN: Colombia FARC rebels complete disarmament

The disarmament by the roughly 7,000 rebels brings Latin America’s oldest civil conflict close to a formal end.

Colombia’s leftist FARC rebel force formally completed its disarmament process on Monday to end half a century of war against the state, the United Nations said.

UN monitors “today have the entirety of the FARC’s registered individual arms stored away,” except for some that were exempted for transitional security at demobilisation camps, the UN said in a statement.

The disarmament by the roughly 7,000 members of Colombia’s biggest rebel group under a 2016 peace accord brings Latin America’s oldest civil conflict close to a complete end.

FARC leader Rodrigo Londono is scheduled to formally conclude the disarmament process at a ceremony with President Juan Manuel Santos in the central town of Mesetas at 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

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The UN’s statement said it had received 7,132 weapons belonging to the rebel fighters, excluding “those that under the roadmap will be used for security in the 26 camps” until August 1.

Separately, the UN mission is continuing to extract and destroy other weapons and munitions stashed in remote hiding places which the FARC have identified and surrendered to the monitors.

Colombia: Paramilitary groups take over abandoned FARC territory

The former fighters are now due to make the transition into civilian life. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will transform into a political party.

The accord, first signed in November, was initially narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum before being redrafted and pushed through congress.

Critics said it was too lenient on FARC members, some of whom will get amnesties or reduced sentences for crimes during the conflict.

The move is a key part of efforts to end the conflict completely.

The last major active rebel force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has started talks with the government in Bogota but has been blamed for continuing confrontations with state forces.

The ELN kidnapped two Dutch journalists on June 19 and freed them five days later.

Officials say remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups are also fighting the ELN in rural areas for control of the drug trade that has fueled the conflict.

OPINION: Why Colombians opposed the peace deal with FARC

Three women were killed in a bombing at a crowded shopping centre in Bogota on June 17. The bombing was blamed on a fringe group, the Revolutionary People’s Movement (MRP).

Colombia’s civil conflict erupted in 1964 over land rights. It drew in leftist armed groups, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

It has left 260,000 people confirmed dead, more than 60,000 missing and seven million displaced.

Source: News Agencies