FARC rebels to meet in Sept to ratify peace deal


HAVANA: FARC rebel leaders will convene in mid-September to ratify the historic peace agreement signed with the Colombian government this week, the guerrilla group announced on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said its leaders would convene for “the last conference of our organization while it still has its arms, endorse the peace accords and make way for the transformation of the FARC into a legal political movement.”

The September 13-19 conference of 200 FARC delegates — including 29 members of its central committee — will be open to 50 international guests as well as the press, an unusual move for the guerrillas.

“Given the historical significance of this event, the people of Colombia and the world must learn first-hand about the conference’s developments and decisions,” the FARC said.

The Marxist guerrillas will hold the conference in San Vicente del Caguan in southern Colombia, once a FARC stronghold.

The announcement comes three days after Colombian and FARC negotiators presented a final peace accord following nearly four years of arduous negotiations in Cuba, putting an end to their half-century civil war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered a definitive ceasefire from Monday with the FARC rebels, and the guerrillas are expected to make a similar announcement shortly.

The conflict began with the founding of the FARC in 1964, when leftist guerrilla armies were fighting to sow revolution throughout Latin America.

Over the years, it has killed an estimated 260,000 people, uprooted 6.8 million and left 45,000 missing.



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