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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Colombie. Cessez le feu historique

by staff, l’Humanité

Historic Ceasefire in Colombia

Translated Thursday 8 September 2016, by Arwen Dewey

Monday was a historic day for Colombia. After 52 years of armed conflict, the first definitive bilateral ceasefire ever signed between the FARC guerrillas and the government came into effect.

Timoleon Jimenez, alias "Timochenko," supreme leader of the FARC, at a press conference in Havana, August 28th 2016. Photo Yamil Lage / AFP

Speaking from Havana last night, the supreme leader of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez, also known as Timochenko, said, "I order... each of our combatants to cease fire and permanently end all hostilities towards the Colombian government."

"August 29th is a new beginning for Colombia. We have laid down our weapons. The war with the FARC is over!" President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted at midnight.

"Starting now, the definitive bilateral ceasefire has begin," tweeted the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in turn.

At midnight exactly, according to local radio stations, and at the suggestion of the Ministry of the Interior, firefighters sounded their engine sirens in villages throughout the country “in support of the ceasefire." This is the first time Colombia has had such a laying down of arms, despite the fact that the FARC have respected a unilateral cessation of hostilities since July 2015 in return for the government’s suspension of aerial bombing against the rebels.

According to the agreement, the bilateral ceasefire must begin no later than the signing date, planned for between September 20th and 26th.

In addition, the FARC have convened their 10th conference to ratify the agreement, negotiated over a period of four years in Cuba. The agreement is laid out in a 297-page document, available on the Internet and through social media and conventional news outlets.

"The final conference of our armed organization... will ratify the peace agreement and bring about the FARC’s transformation into a legal political movement," stated FARC representatives on Saturday. The conference will be held from September 13th to 19th on the Sabanas del Yarí [Yarí Plains] in San Vicente del Caguan, the former southern stronghold of the guerrillas. The event will bring together 200 FARC delegates, including staff. Exceptionally, the conference will also be open to 50 national and international guests as well as the press, so that, according to the FARC, “the people of Colombia and the world can see for themselves what’s happening."

The "formal signing" of the accords by President Santos and Timochenko is planned for “between September 20th and 26th," announced Minister of National Defense Luis Carlos Villegas. It will be, he explained, the launch date for regrouping the guerrillas into 22 zones and eight encampments and starting their disarmament. The disarmament is expected to take place over a period of six months under UN supervision.

In an interview with CNN, President Santos stated that the agreement may be signed in Cuba, in Bogota, or during the UN General Assembly in New York. The Colombian people will then vote in a referendum on October 2nd.

To win, the "yes" to peace must receive at least 4.4 million votes (13% of the electorate), and the "no" must receive a weaker score.

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