Colombia, FARC Set Date for Peace

Colombia, FARC Set Date for PeaceColombia, FARC Set Date for Peace

A half-century old insurgency is set to come to an end in Colombia on September 26.

That’s when President Juan Manuel Santos and long-time foe Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, will shake hands and sign the agreement in Cartogena, AFP reported.

“This is perhaps the most important announcement I’ve made in my entire life,” Santos said in a speech.

The government and the FARC reached the historic deal to end a 52-year-old conflict with South America’s largest insurgency, last week. More than 220,000 people were killed in the fighting and another 5 million were displaced.

After the peace deal is signed, a public referendum will follow on October 2. Voters will be asked to respond yes or no to a single question: “Do you support the accord that puts an end to armed conflict and constructs a stable and durable nation?”

Despite that gauzy wording, there is opposition to the accord, most notably by two of Colombia’s former presidents, including the popular rightwing hardliner Alvaro Uribe. Unlike Uribe, Santos made reaching a peace agreement with the rebels a priority.

Still, the nation remains deeply divided, although opinion polls generally suggest Colombians will back the peace deal. There is heated debate about the kind of justice the rebels should face and how they should be incorporated into society.

The 297-page peace accord details the terms for a gradual demobilization of the FARC’s estimated 7,000 fighters. It calls for the fighting units to redeploy to 28 rural areas across the country where they will gradually hand over their weapons to a United Nations-backed mission over the ensuing six months.