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Colombia FARC rebels finish disarmament process: UN

A general view of the Transitional Standardization Zone Mariana Paez, in Buena Vista, in Colombia, on June 26, 2017 (photo by AFP)

The United Nations (UN) has announced that Colombia’s leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have formally completed its disarmament process.

The UN said in a statement on Monday that its monitors “today have the entirety of the FARC’s registered individual arms stored away,” except for “those that under the roadmap will be used for security” in the 26 demobilization camps until August 1.

The FARC rebels surrendered their weapons as part of a landmark peace agreement signed with the government last year.

FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, also known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, is due to formally conclude the disarmament process at a ceremony with President Juan Manuel Santos in the town of Mesetas in central Colombia at 1500 GMT on Tuesday.

Separately, the UN mission is continuing to extract and destroy other arms and munitions stashed in remote hiding places that the rebels have identified and surrendered to the monitors.

FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono (C), better known as Timochenko, arrives at the Transitional Standardization Zone Mariana Paez, in Buena Vista, Colombia, June 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Ahead of the UN announcement, Londono hailed the disarmament as “a historic moment for Colombia.”

“The laying down of arms is an act of will, courage, and hope,” he said on his twitter account.

Last week, Santos said the event “changes the history of Colombia.”

The Colombian government and the FARC rebels signed the peace deal last year after four years of negotiations in the Cuban capital, Havana. The deal practically ended Latin America’s longest-running conflict, which had begun in 1964.

The deal turns the guerrilla group into a Marxist political party after demobilization, while the government would make a raft of reforms meant to eliminate rural inequality and political exclusion, which were viewed as the root causes of the half-century conflict.

The government says the conflict left at least 260,000 fatalities and forced more than seven million people to leave their homes.

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