FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez announced Sunday from Havana a definitive cease-fire, just a few days after the historic announcement of a final deal between the government and FARC rebels.
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The FARC leader formally ordered all FARC units of the country to drop their arms on Monday, 00:00 a.m. local time, just as the Colombian armed forces are expected to, according to a prior announcement made Friday by President Juan Manuel Santos.
"May the rebellion never be necessary again!" said Jimenez. "Long live social justice, Colombia and peace!"
While negotiations in Havana, Cuba, wrapped up last Wednesday after nearly four years and the two sides of the conflict unveiled the text of the final agreement, the official signing of Colombia’s groundbreaking peace accord will not take place until later in September.
Government sources have announced that President Santos and FARC leader Jimenez, also known as Timochenko, will officially sign the agreement between Sept. 20 and 26, less than two weeks ahead of the plebiscite on Oct. 2 that will ask Colombians to vote on whether they accept the agreement. The location of the signing has not been confirmed.
Ahead of the signing, the FARC leadership will hold a national conference from Sept. 13 to 19 to ratify the landmark peace deal with its ranks, marking the rebel army’s last such conference before it lays down arms in accordance with the agreement. The conference, which will be held in San Vicente del Caguan in the southern Amazonian department of Caqueta, will bring together some 200 FARC delegates as well as 50 national and international guests.
In a statement Saturday, the FARC heralded the conference’s “historic importance” for being the last conference with arms that will “give way to the transformation of the FARC into a legal political movement.” FARC leaders have stressed that the guerrilla, founded in 1964, has always been a political movement at heart, though behind military fatigues.
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The peace deal guarantees the participation of the FARC in electoral politics once the group completes the process of laying down arms with international monitoring. A definitive government ceasefire against the FARC, ordered by Santos after the deal was finalized in Havana Wednesday, takes effect Monday.
In an interview with Argentina’s La Nacion published Saturday, Santos called the peace deal “the most complete in the world” that has marked the “first step to build stable and lasting peace.”
The 297-page document covers key issues that have been at the foundation of the conflict since the FARC consolidated 52 years ago, such as comprehensive land reform and measures to address inequality for rural communities. Other cornerstone agreements cover matters of crop substitution for illicit products, political participation, demobilization and reintegration of former rebels, victims’ rights, and end-of-war implementation measures.
The country will go to the polls on Oct. 2 to vote in a plebiscite designed to ratify the deal with society. If Colombians vote “yes” in the plebiscite, the FARC will have non-voting representation in Congress until the next election in 2018.
The FARC is estimated to have some 7,000 members after declining from up to 20,000 at the peak of the conflict in the 1990’s. The over five-decade internal conflict, the longest-running war in the Americas, claimed over 220,000 lives and internally displaced some 6.3 million Colombians.