Colombia disarmament process for individual arms ends


Colombia disarmament process for individual arms ends

Farc rebels in Colombia have handed over all of their personal weapons, completing the transfer of arms a day ahead of a revised schedule, United Nations monitors in Colombia say.

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 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.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, turned in the remaining 40 percent of their firearms in Mesetas, a mountainous area in southeastern Colombia.

"We are giving the country our ethical and political commitment that we're giving up weapons", Ceron said Monday as crews built the stage where the disarmament ceremony would take place amid pouring rain.

"The laying down of arms is an act of will, courage and hope", he wrote on Twitter. From there, rank and file rebels will begin their transition back to civilian life.

Critics such as conservative political leader Alvaro Uribe said it was too lenient on FARC members, some of whom will get amnesties or reduced sentences for crimes committed during the conflict.

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 state promised to develop alternative sources of revenue for growers of coca - the raw ingredient used in the production of cocaine.

The FARC launched its uprising in 1964 to fight for land rights and protection for poor rural communities.

Colombia has been riven by internal conflict since the 1960s, as FARC and other left-wing rebels battled the military, police and right-wing paramilitaries.

"It marks the beginning of the post-conflict period... and of a hard process of reconciliation in the country".

Santos won last year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reach a peace deal, ending a conflict that has lasted more than 50 years.

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

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

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



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