Colombia’s government and the country’s leftist FARC rebels signed a historic ceasefire deal that brings them close to ending the last major leftist insurgency in Latin America after more than half a century of war.
The accord, capping three years of talks in Havana, paves the way for a final peace deal to end a conflict that was born in the 1960s out of frustration with deep socio-economic inequalities and that outlived other major uprisings in the Americas.
“May this be the last day of the war,” said FARC commander Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, his voice choked with tears.
“We are close to a final peace accord,” he said, after shaking hands with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the signing ceremony in Havana.
The deal went further than many hoped, with FARC committing to putting a final accord to the Colombian people in a plebiscite, a promise made by Colombian President Juan Manual Santos that had been a key sticking point.
The rebels will lay down their arms within 180 days of a final agreement, said Rodolfo Benitez, a Cuban mediator in the talks.
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