FARC rebels ratify peace pact with Colombian government

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Bogota, Sep 24 (IANS) The FARC rebel group announced that its fighters voted to ratify a peace pact with the Colombian government to end 52 years of civil war in the South American nation.

“We inform you that the guerrilla delegates have given unanimous support to the peace accord,” senior insurgent Ivan Marquez told reporters on Friday following the conclusion of an assembly of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The accord establishes a timetable for the FARC to lay down its arms and provides for international verification of compliance.

The unanimity among the roughly 200 delegates gathered in the remote village of El Diamante demonstrates the “internal cohesion” of the rebel army, Marquez said.

At the same time, he called on the FARC’s 1st Front, which opposes the peace deal, to return to the fold and embrace the decisions of the assembly.

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“The FARC, in its conversion to a legal political movement, opens it doors to receive you again as members of a single family,” he said, addressing the breakaway combatants.

The peace accord was initiated last month in Havana, the venue for the negotiations that began in November 2012, and is to be formally signed on Monday 26 by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC Commander Rodrigo Londono Echeverri.

Marquez, who led the rebel negotiating team in Havana, said the delegates in El Diamante voted to expand the FARC’s principal decision-making body, the Secretariat, from nine members to 61 as the organisation embarks on the transition to peace.

“The reconciliation of the country leaves neither victors nor vanquished,” he said.

Colombians will go to the polls October 2 for a referendum on the peace accord.

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