UN announces complete disarmament of Colombia's FARC rebels

The scene of a police standoff in Port Coquitlam that resulted in one man dead

Colombians celebrated a historic achievement on Tuesday as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who have waged war against the country's government for the past half century finally surrendered their weapons.

Speaking at the ceremony, Jean Arnault, the head of the UN's mission in Colombia, said the disarmament process was an example to the rest of the world.

The group's 6,800 fighters handed in the 7,132 weapons in three phases this month in a disarmament process supervised by the UN. She said she wanted an education that her poor family couldn't provide. But with the prospect of peace, she has been reunited with her mother, who she hadn't seen in seven years, and now plans to study engineering.

Weapons "fulfilled a function at one time, but today we are making a political decision and we no longer need them", senior FARC commander Mauricio Jaramillo told AFP.

"This is a peace that allows better education, health, housing and more opportunities for Colombians", Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, launching the hashtag "Viva La Vida", meaning "live life" in English, to celebrate a new chapter of Colombia's history.

The process still faces harsh critics from political leaders, including former President Alvaro Uribe who said last week that if his political movement wins next year's election, changes to the implementation process will be carried out.

Aldo Civico, a Colombia expert at Rutgers University, said doubt over the exact number of weapons turned in ultimately doesn't matter in measuring disarmament's success.

The implementation of the peace accord includes agrarian reform, the eradication of drug crops and reparation for the victims of the conflict.

Today a smooth paved road connects Mesetas with Bogota, but the community suffers from the same neglect and inequities that gave rise to the conflict.

"But even if the arms have been laid down, much remains to be done before we can be sure that the peace process has led to a durable peace".

President Santos is now trying to strike a similar deal with the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second-largest left-wing rebel group. It drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

A more-recent rash of killings of dozens of social leaders highlighted in Londono's speech is also heightening concerns.

"The tragic experiences of the past can not be allowed to repeat themselves", said Londono, who is better known by his alias, Timochenko.



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