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FARC weapons deadline extended in Colombia

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By Seamus Kearney
FARC weapons deadline extended in Colombia

<p>A deadline for <span class="caps">FARC</span> rebels in Colombia to hand over weapons as part of the country’s historic peace accord has been extended.</p> <p>May 30 was the original date, but the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have agreed that guerilla fighters will have a further 20 days to surrender weapons to UN observers.</p> <p>Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in a televised address: “This change in date does not affect, in any way, the firm decision and the clear commitment from the government and the <span class="caps">FARC</span> to honour our accord. </p> <p>“The international mechanism to monitor and verify will continue to exert its role until we certify that the last of <span class="caps">FARC</span> weapons have been turned over and removed from our national territory.”</p> <p>Various logistical problems have slowed down the <span class="caps">FARC</span> demobilisation process, which came into force after last year’s peace accord.</p> <p>The deal was signed in September, putting an end to more than 50 years of war, which claimed more than 220,000 lives.</p> <p>The peace deal was rejected in a public referendum but it was pushed through congress anyway.</p> <p>Under the agreement, rebels are required to live in specially-built camps scattered around the country and give up their weapons. </p> <p>But there have been delays in the construction of the camps and the installation of sanitation and sleeping facilities.</p> <p>The requirement for the rebels to stay in camps has also been extended until August 1.</p>