Colombia’s FARC Rebels Sign Cease-Fire Deal Ahead of Disarmament

  • FARC leader says rebel group to disarm, enter politics
  • Final peace deal within ‘relatively sort’ time: Timochenko

The Colombian government signed a cease-fire agreement Thursday with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and outlined how Latin America’s oldest rebel group will disarm.

The deal, once implemented, will bring an end to a civil conflict that has lasted more than five decades, killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions. Peace will add 1 percentage point to Colombia’s economic growth, and boost spending on health and education, according to the government.

Once a full agreement is reached, FARC rebels will concentrate in 23 zones and eight camps across the Andean nation, from which the rebels will leave as unarmed civilians within 180 days, according to a joint statement sent via e-mail. The process will be verified by international monitors.

The two sides will sign a final deal within a “relatively short” time, the FARC leader known by the alias ‘Timochenko’ said after signing the cease-fire in Havana. “We are going to enter politics, using legal channels.”

The cease-fire accord is ‘credit positive for Colombia, credit rating agency Moody’s said in a note to clients. There remains one agenda item -- “implementation, verification and ratification” -- to be resolved before the full peace agreement can be signed by July 20, the most recent deadline imposed by President Juan Manuel Santos. The final agreement will be signed in Colombia, with both the government and FARC willing to accept the constitutional court’s ruling on how it should be ratified, he said Thursday.

Opponents to the Havana talks including former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe say the process is excessively lenient to the FARC.

“There won’t be impunity,” Santos said after today’s ceremony. “The chief architects of atrocious crimes will be tried and sanctioned.”

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