MESETAS, Colombia – Leftist rebels in Colombia have turned over almost all of their fighters’ individual weapons as part of a historic peace deal reached with the government last year to end a half century of conflict, the United Nations said Monday.
A U.N. statement said it had received 7,132 weapons belonging to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia fighters. A smaller number of weapons will remain in the hands of guerrillas until Aug. 1, providing protection at 26 rural camps where the FARC’s 7,000 fighters are making their transition to civilian life.
The announcement comes a day before President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC’s top commander Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, are to meet in one of the rural camps to commemorate the completion of the disarmament process.
The rebels were supposed to have turned in all of their weapons by the end of May under the original terms of the peace deal but there have been numerous delays.
The first year of implementing the peace deal has been behind schedule on everything from building demobilization zones to passing laws to implement the accords. Nonetheless both the FARC and the government say they are making steady progress as the rebels transition to civilian life.
The accord, first signed in November, was narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum before being redrafted and pushed through Congress. Critics had said it was too lenient on FARC members.