Colombian government and Farc rebels announce ceasefire deal to end war

  • Agreement includes demobilisation and reintegration of fighters
  • 52-year conflict has claimed 220,000 lives and displaced millions

The Colombian government and leftist Farc rebels have announced that they have reached a deal on a bilateral ceasefire that would be the last major step toward ending one of the world’s longest wars.

“We have arrived with success at an agreement on the bilateral and definitive ceasefire and end to hostilities,” both sides said in a statement read to media in Havana.

The accord will be signed on Thursday in Havana by President Juan Manuel Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko.

President Juan Manuel Santos will travel to Cuba on Thursday for the announcement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, announced he would also be present to witness the signing of the deal.

The presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Chile, the three countries sponsoring the almost four-year-old peace talks in Havana, were also expected, and the Obama administration will send its special envoy to the talks, former diplomat Bernard Aronson.

Colombia’s conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions since 1964. But a 15-year, US-backed military offensive thinned the rebels’ ranks and forced its ageing leaders to the negotiating table in 2012.

Momentum had been building towards a breakthrough after Santos said this week that he hoped to end a half-century of bloodshed by 20 July.

But Wednesday’s agreement went further than expected, removing all doubt that a final deal is around the corner.

The ceasefire, which includes terms for the Farc’s demobilization and laying down of arms, will not begin until the final deal is signed.

In addition to announcing a framework for the ceasefire, both sides said they agreed on how the Farc’s estimated 7,000 fighters will demobilise and hand over their weapons, as well as the security guarantees that will be provided to leftist activists after the conflict ends. Negotiators in January tasked the UN with monitoring adherence to an eventual ceasefire and resolving disputes emerging from the demobilisation.

With the latest advances, only a few minor pending items remain, the biggest being how the final deal will be ratified and given legal force so that it will not unravel should a more conservative government succeed Santos, who leaves office in 2018.

Santos has vowed to put the deal to a referendum so Colombians can express their opinion. Opinion polls show the Farc are widely despised among conservative Colombians and frustration with the rebels has grown as the talks have dragged on, making reconciliation seem more distant.

The peace talks have been bumpy and extended much longer than Santos or anyone else anticipated. But if a final deal is reached it would bring an end to Latin America’s last major insurgency, one accused of being a major supplier of cocaine to the US, though the much-smaller and more recalcitrant National Liberation Army has a toehold in some areas and could fill the void left by the Farc.

The Farc called a unilateral ceasefire nearly a year ago and the government responded by halting airstrikes on rebel camps. Negotiators missed a self-imposed deadline for signing the final accord in March.

The group of about 8,000 combatants, down from 17,000 in its heyday, is considered a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.
The Farc grew out of a 1960s peasant movement demanding land reform, and has been fighting successive governments ever since.

Staff and agencies in Havana

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Farc peace deal: rebels and Colombian government sign accord to end war
After 52 years of war, government and guerrillas present disarmament and justice plan that Colombian voters will be asked to ratify in a plebiscite

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

25, Aug, 2016 @7:55 AM

Article image
Colombia and Farc rebels sign historic ceasefire deal to end 50-year conflict
Final peace deal will require approval in referendum but formal cessation of hostilities and Farc’s acceptance of disarmament are key steps toward resolution

Sibylla Brodzinsky and Jonathan Watts

23, Jun, 2016 @5:54 PM

Article image
Farc rebels and Colombian government reach deal over political participation

Rebels have agreed to give up use of violence to reach political ends in major breakthrough in peace talks

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

06, Nov, 2013 @11:34 PM

Article image
Colombian government and Farc reach new peace deal
Modifications to original accord, rejected in a plebiscite, aim to win round no vote but arguments have already begun

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

13, Nov, 2016 @9:43 PM

Article image
Deforestation soars in Colombia after Farc rebels' demobilization
Area of deforestation climbed 44% in 2016 compared with year before, as criminal groups have swooped in promote illegal logging and mining

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

11, Jul, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
Colombian provincial governor killed by suspected Farc rebels
Commando team stormed house and took politician into country's southern jungles

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

23, Dec, 2009 @1:35 AM

Article image
For Farc rebels, peace deal brings baby boom after 52 years of pregnancy ban
About 80 female guerrilla fighters are now pregnant after years of being expected to put the war before children – even if that meant undergoing illegal abortions

Sibylla Brodzinsky in San Miguel

10, Feb, 2017 @10:00 AM

Article image
Farc deal opens path for Colombia's other rebels: 'The future has to be about war'
The ELN, now the country’s biggest rebel army, remains deeply at odds with the government as an October ceasefire comes to an end

Mathew Charles in Santa María de la Loma de Bicordó

07, Jan, 2018 @7:30 AM

Article image
Colombian president halts talks with Farc rebels after general kidnapped
Efforts to end 50 years of war in crisis after Ruben Dario Alzate captured along with military official and lawyer

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

17, Nov, 2014 @2:22 PM

Article image
Colombian forces trick Farc rebels into freeing hostage Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt was savouring freedom last night after Colombia's security forces duped guerrillas into releasing her

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent and Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogota

02, Jul, 2008 @11:01 PM