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FARC weapons deadline extended in Colombia

FARC weapons deadline extended in Colombia
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By Seamus Kearney
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A deadline for FARC rebels in Colombia to hand over weapons as part of the country’s historic peace accord has been extended.

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.

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 FARC to honour our accord.

“The international mechanism to monitor and verify will continue to exert its role until we certify that the last of FARC weapons have been turned over and removed from our national territory.”

Various logistical problems have slowed down the FARC demobilisation process, which came into force after last year’s peace accord.

The deal was signed in September, putting an end to more than 50 years of war, which claimed more than 220,000 lives.

The peace deal was rejected in a public referendum but it was pushed through congress anyway.

Under the agreement, rebels are required to live in specially-built camps scattered around the country and give up their weapons.

But there have been delays in the construction of the camps and the installation of sanitation and sleeping facilities.

The requirement for the rebels to stay in camps has also been extended until August 1.

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