Colombia FARC rebels hand over 'all weapons'



Colombia's largest rebel group, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), formally completed its disarmament process on Monday, ending half a century of war against the state, the United Nations said.

UN monitors "today have the entirety of FARC's registered individual arms stored away," except for some that were exempted for transitional security at demobilization camps, the body said in a statement.

The disarmament by the roughly 7,000 members of Colombia's biggest rebel group under a 2016 peace accord brings Latin America's oldest civil conflict close to a complete end.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos greets the military during a visit to the FARC concentration zone in Putumayo, Colombia, February 20, 2017.

FARC's leader Rodrigo Londono is scheduled to formally conclude the disarmament process at a ceremony with President Juan Manuel Santos in the central town of Mesetas on Tuesday afternoon.

The UN statement said the FARC had handed over all of its more than 7,000 weapons, excluding "those that under the roadmap will be used for security in the 26 camps" until August 1.

Separately, the UN mission is continuing to extract and destroy other weapons and munitions stashed in remote hiding places which the FARC have identified and surrendered to the monitors.

FARC members at the Los Robles camp, Colombia, January 25, 2017.

The former fighters are now due to make the transition into civilian life.

The FARC will transform into a political party. The accord, first signed in November, was initially narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum before being redrafted and pushed through congress.

Critics said it was too lenient on FARC members, some of whom will get amnesties or reduced sentences for crimes in the conflict. The move is a key part of efforts to end the conflict completely. The last active rebel force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has started talks with the government in Bogota, but has been blamed for continuing confrontations with state forces.