Colombian President oversees final withdrawal of rebels' arms

17 August, 2017, 09:03 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • FARC members stand during a formation in a camp before moving to the transitional zone of Pueblo Nuevo at the Los Robles FARC camp Colombia

President Juan Manuel Santos declared Colombia's 50-year conflict with the FARC finally over on Tuesday, as the last truckloads of decommissioned weapons rolled away to be melted down.

"We have just witnessed the final exit of containers with weapons in La Guajira: the last breath of the conflict with the FARC", he added.

It is in these remote parts of Colombia, however, that some FARC weapons apparently remain: the rebels say that more than 900 weapons were too hard to access -which leaves them available to be found by other rebel groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second-biggest rebel group.

Some 7,000 FARC rebels have demobilized since a peace accord was agreed a year ago between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.

A total of 8,112 guns, 1.3 million cartridges, 22 tons of explosives, 3,000 grenades and 1,000 land mines were collected by the United Nations, according to Jean Arnault, the head of the mission in the South American country.

The revolutionary armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), a marxist guerilla group founded in 1964, following an uprising peasant, have signed the peace in November, and will be transformed into a political party at their national convention, scheduled from 27 August to 1 September in Bogota.

"This puts the country on the path to a new future", said Arnault.

"We are more optimistic because the impossible was fulfilled: departure of last container with FARC arms makes its disarmament definitive", Santos said in a statement Tuesday.

Roughly 7,000 FARC fighters have demobilised under the accord, which allows the group 10 unelected seats in congress until the end of 2026 and grants amnesty to the majority of ex-fighters. Rebels convicted of human rights violations will avoid prison and instead perform reparations work, such as landmine removal.

Mr Santos also said the Colombian state was "committed to the safety of ex-combatants and communities in the zones that endured the armed conflict".

Over the next five decades, the conflict between the rebels, government forces and right-wing paramilitaries claimed at least 250,000 lives and left another 60,000 people missing.

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