1 Dec 2016

Colombia's Congress ratifies FARC deal

6:29 pm on 1 December 2016

Colombia's Congress has ratified a revised peace accord between the government and the FARC rebel group.

A member of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla, keeps watch at their camp in El Diamante, Caqueta Department, Colombia, on September 26, 2016

A member of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) keeps watch at a camp in El Diamante, Caqueta Department, Colombia. Photo: AFP

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the plan, a day after the Senate also gave its backing.

President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed what he called "landmark backing" for a start to the process by which thousands of FARC fighters will leave jungle camps and lay down their arms.

The first peace accord was narrowly rejected in a referendum in October.

The accord aims to end an armed conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people over five decades.

FARC rebels are due to move to transition zones over the next six months, hand in their weapons and form a political party.

The army will move into former FARC-controlled territory to prevent drug traffickers from taking it over.

Both sides reached an agreement earlier this year after four years of talks in the Cuban capital, Havana.

But the surprise referendum result meant the government and rebel leaders had to make changes. The revised accord does not need a second popular vote.

President Santos has said that the new proposals are stronger and take into account changes demanded by opponents of the scheme.

But opponents, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, say the revised deal is still too lenient on FARC leaders.

- BBC