Bogota: Colombia’s Marxist FARC rebel group on Tuesday all but concluded handing over another 30% of its weaponry to the United Nations, as part of a peace deal signed with the government to end more than 52 years of war.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have given up nearly 60% of their arms, as agreed late last year with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. The rebels are expected to complete the second tranche of the handover on Wednesday.
“It’s a historic day,” said Santos, who has staked his legacy on bringing peace to Colombia.
“Peace will be built little by little, in fact, it is like building a cathedral, it is brick by brick,” Santos said from the city of Cali after he was unable to reach a weapons handover ceremony in Cauca province due to bad weather.
The deadline for disarmament was recently extended after logistical delays slowed the arrival of some of the group’s 7,000 fighters to special demobilisation zones.
The remaining 40% are due to be relinquished by June 20, the expiry date of the extension with the government.
“This is another demonstration of our true commitment in the construction of peace,” the FARC said on Twitter after a ceremony.
Under the accord, rejected in a public referendum but pushed through by congress, the FARC will become a political party and most fighters will receive amnesty.