Colombia disarmament process for individual arms ends

Colombia disarmament process for individual arms ends

Colombia disarmament process for individual arms ends

Colombians celebrated a historic achievement on Tuesday as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who have waged war against the country's government for the past half century finally surrendered their weapons.

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 demobilisation camps, the United Nations said in a statement.

The hour long ceremony in one of FARC's 26 transitional zones marks the end of one of the world's oldest Marxist insurgencies, although "Timochenko" said his organization would continue in the struggle to defend the agreements of the final peace accord, signed last November in the Colombian capital.

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

"This is the best news for Colombia in the last 50 years", said Santos to an audience of former combatants and representatives of Colombia's left-wing political parties.

Presidential elections are scheduled for next March and as stipulated in the peace accord signed a year ago, 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.

Under the terms of the deal, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will turn in all guns and other arms to the United Nations at special demobilization camps around the country.

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Those accused of crimes in the conflict will be tried by special courts and some will get amnesties or reduced sentences. It drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

There are also worries over the fate of territory and drug-trafficking operations that were previously controlled by the Farc. It left 260,000 people confirmed dead, more than 60,000 missing and 7 million displaced.

The ELN started talks with the government this year, though it has been blamed for ongoing confrontations with state forces.

It kidnapped two Dutch journalists on June 19 and freed them five days later. The state promised to develop alternative sources of revenue for growers of coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine.

Three women were killed in a bombing at a crowded shopping center in Bogota on June 17.

Land: Land rights for poor rural communities were at the root of the conflict when it erupted in 1964. That was blamed on a fringe extremist group, the Revolutionary People's Movement (MRP).

When Timochenko spoke, he said that the Farc had not failed Colombia, because they had handed over their weapons.

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