Colombia's FARC rebels to start disarming Wednesday

AFP , Tuesday 28 Feb 2017

Colombia's FARC rebels will begin disarming Wednesday, their leaders and the government said, the culmination of a peace process to end half a century of conflict.

After weeks of mustering its troops at designated disarmament zones, the FARC will start to inventory its weapons and destroying munitions under UN supervision, the government's high commissioner for peace, Sergio Jaramillo, told journalists Tuesday.

"As a concrete first step in the process of laying down our arms and as a sign of our unconditional committment to peace, FARC members' weapons ... will be turned over to the United Nations," said FARC leader Ivan Marquez.

The disarmament of the country's largest guerrilla group will leave rival movement ELN -- currently engaged in rocky peace talks with the government -- as the only rebel group still waging a multi-sided war that has killed 260,000 people.

President Juan Manuel Santos is scrambling to seal a "complete peace" with both leftist rebel groups, which were launched in 1964.

His historic peace deal with the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is running slightly behind schedule.

Under the deal, signed in November, the FARC was due to surrender 30 percent of its weapons to the UN by Wednesday. But that can only happen once the inventory is complete.

Jaramillo said a June deadline for the rebels to fully disarm would be maintained, however.

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