Ending one of the longest running strife in history, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a final peace deal on Wednesday night (Thursday morning IST).
This brings to a close a violent 50-year-long chapter in Colombia’s troubled history which has seen the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displacement of millions on both sides.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos declared that the deal, in process for the last four years, has been signed thereby cementing his name as the country’s greatest president.
“Today, I speak to you with a deep emotion and great happiness. Today marks the end of suffering and pain, the end of the tragedy of war. On Aug. 24, 2016…this national hope has become reality,” said a jubilant Santos.
“We have reached a final, complete and definite agreement to put an end to the war of the FARC,” he added.
He said that FARC will no longer remain an armed group but will become a political force “without guns”.
The deal means that FARC members will now be able to enter domestic political life.
Yet Santos cautioned that those who have committed crimes of inhumanity, whether FARC members or Colombia’s armed forces, will be punished.
In a major statement, Santos revealed that “the FARC has promised to break off all links they may have had with drug trafficking and to collaborate…to the solution of this problem.”
But the real test will be on October 2 when the people of Colombia will get to vote on whether to accept or reject the deal though an early survey hinted that most would vote in favour of the deal.
The deal was finalized in a ceremony in Havana, Cuba, where talks have been held since November 2012.
The FARC’s top envoy to the talks, Ivan Marquez, said that “we have concluded the most beautiful of all battles, building the basis for peace.”
In a video interview, Timoleon Jimenez, alias Timochenko, the FARC leader, said that “the uncertainty is over. The last few days have seen hard work. I understand the expectations and worries of every Colombian as to whether we would reach this agreement or not.”
Timochenko cautioned that Colombia “must not go back to murdering anyone, kidnapping anyone… We will begin building this country together, from today”.
Colombian government will have to now ensure land reforms, change the narcotics drive and let leftist FARC rebels assimilate with the mainstream.
UN will be supervising the six-month long disarmament process in Colombia.