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Colombia's FARC rebels ratify peace accord to end decades-old war

Under the agreement, FARC received 10 unelected seats in Congress until 2026 and will continue to push for social change as a political party. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Yari Plains, Colombia Sep 23, 2016, 10.24 PM (IST)
In a historic decision, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Friday voted unanimously for a peace deal with the Colombian government, ending five decades of war. 

Their chief peace negotiator announced the peace accord was finalised after four years negotiations in Havana. 

"The war is over, long live Colombia, long live peace," FARC commander Ivan Marquez told reporters following a secret vote at the close of a guerrilla congress on the southern Yari Plains.

"The guerrillas... have given their unanimous backing to the final accord," he said

The five-point peace accord covers agricultural reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade, victims' reparations, FARC political participation and demobilisation.

Under the agreement, the FARC will continue to push for social change as a political party. It received 10 unelected seats in Congress until 2026. 

"We inform the country and the government and the governments and people of the world that the rebel delegates of the congress have given unanimous backing to the final accord," Marquez said.

The leadership are expected to announce their policy details soon as it morphs into a party rooted in Marxist ideals. 

"Our initial platform is the implementation of the Havana accords," Pastor Alape, a member of the FARC's secretariat, told Reuters at the congress. "Our political proposals will have to come from the suggestions of our base."

"We started our political efforts clandestinely and now we aspire, legally, to open our initiatives, together with all sectors of society, to concretely cultivate the political space we are given," Alape said.

Some from the group have expressed the intent to decentralise Colombia's government, including halving the size of Congress, in a bid to combat corruption and ensure communities have control over the distribution of royalties from oil and mining projects.

The peace accord is due to be signed on Monday by President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Timochenko. 

It is then up to the Colombians who will vote on the deal in an October 2 plebiscite, the final go-ahead for rebels to demobilise.

Polls suggest the peace deal will get widespread support from the citizens. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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