Permanent ceasefire in Colombia ends decades of bloodshed

Five decades of war in Colombia came to an end early Monday as a permanent and definitive ceasefire took hold shortly after midnight (0500 GMT) between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group.

FARC head Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, and President Juan Manuel Santos announced the permanent ceasefire on Sunday after the two sides reached a historic peace agreement last week.

The peace deal was announced Thursday after nearly four years of negotiations in Havana, including a marathon weeklong session that led to the final deal.

The agreement includes rural reforms, joint action against drug trafficking, political participation of demobilized guerrillas and the creation of a system of transitional justice.

After Santos and Londono hold an official signing ceremony in September, the deal will be subjected to a national referendum, planned for October 2.

As many as 34 million potential voters could take part in the referendum. If Colombians endorse the peace accord, it would spell the end of the FARC as an armed group and a significant reduction in the conflict that began in 1964.

Colombia has since been riven by internal conflict as FARC and other left-wing rebels have battled military, police and right-wing paramilitaries.

More than 220,000 lives have been lost, and millions forced to flee parts of the country consumed by war. The government counts more than 7.6 million Colombians as direct and indirect victims of the conflict, and more landmine victims than any country but Afghanistan.

Last update: Mon, 29/08/2016 - 10:59

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