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Colombia Farc: Celebrations after ceasefire ends five decades of war

Colombians are celebrating the signing of a ceasefire by the government and the Farc rebel movement, which ended 50 years of civil war.

In the capital, Bogota, people took to the streets, hugging each other and singing the national anthem.

The announcement is seen as one of the last steps before a full peace deal is signed, which is expected within weeks.

The longest-running insurgency in the Western hemisphere left some 220,000 people dead and millions displaced.

Thursday’s announcement in Havana caps formal peace talks that started three years ago in the Cuban capital.

But it does not mark the start of the ceasefire, which will only begin with the signing of a final accord.

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has previously said he hopes to sign that by the end of July.

Thursday’s announcement included:

  • A commitment that rebels will lay down arms within 180 days of a final peace deal
  • The creation of temporary transition zones and camps for the estimated 7,000 rebels
  • A provision that no civilians will be allowed to enter Farc camps, to guarantee rebel security
  • A provision that UN monitors will receive all the group’s weapons

“Let this be the last day of the war,” Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, said at the announcement.

Both sides agreed to let the courts rule whether a popular vote can be held in Colombia to endorse the deal, which was a promise made by Mr Santos.

The president said at the ceremony that this was a “historic day”.

“We have reached the end of 50 years of death, attacks and pain,” he said. “This is the end of the armed conflict with the Farc.”

Both sides still need to establish how the peace deal in its entirety will be implemented, verified and approved.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of Latin American countries also attended the ceremony.

The agreement was welcomed elsewhere, with the EU’s foreign representative Federica Mogherini calling it “a turning point in the Colombian peace process”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that “although hard work remains to be done, the finish line is approaching and nearer now than it has ever been”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36614419

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