Date
26 March 2017
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) hands a lapel pin in shape of a dove to Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono after signing a peace accord on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (L) hands a lapel pin in shape of a dove to Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Londono after signing a peace accord on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Colombia inks accord with Marxist rebels, ending 52-year war

The Colombian government signed a peace deal with the FARC rebel group on Monday, ending a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people.

The accord, which came after four years of peace talks in Cuba, was signed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Marxist rebel leader Timochenko at a ceremony in Cartagena.

The leaders shook hands in front of hundreds of dignitaries and signed the accord with a pen made from a bullet casing, Reuters reports.

Timochenko is the nom de guerre for 57-year-old revolutionary Rodrigo Londono. 

Guests at the ceremony included United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Cuban President Raul Castro and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The end of Latin America’s longest-running war will turn the FARC guerrillas into a political party fighting at the ballot box instead of the battlefield they have occupied since 1964.

Showing its support for the peace deal, the European Union on Monday removed the FARC from its list of terror groups.

Kerry said Washington will also review whether to take the FARC off its terror list, and has pledged US$390 million for Colombia next year to support the peace process.

Colombians will vote on Oct. 2 on whether to ratify the agreement, but polls show it should pass easily.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, began as a peasant revolt, became a big player in the cocaine trade and at its strongest had 20,000 fighters.

Now its some 7,000 fighters must hand over their weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.

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