WORLD


Colombia, Marxist rebels sign accord ending 52-year war

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Baku, September 27, AZERTAC

Colombia's center-right government and the Marxist FARC rebel group signed a peace deal on Monday to end a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people and once took the Andean country to the brink of collapse, according to Reuters.

After four years of peace talks in Cuba, President Juan Manuel Santos, 65, and rebel leader Timochenko - the nom de guerre for 57-year-old Rodrigo Londono - warmly shook hands on Colombian soil for the first time and signed the accord with a pen made from a bullet casing.

A crowd of dignitaries chanted: "Long live Colombia, long live peace" as Santos handed Timochenko a white dove pin. One man waved a large Colombian flag that had an extra white stripe in homage to the peace deal.

"The horrible night of violence that has covered us with its shadow for more than half a century is over," Santos said through tears. "We open our hearts to a new dawn, to a brilliant sun full of possibilities that has appeared in the Colombian sky."

Colombians will vote on Sunday on whether to ratify the agreement, but opinion polls show it should pass easily.

Attendees at the event, many of whom also wept, observed a minute of silence in memory of those killed, maimed, raped, kidnapped and displaced during the war.

The end of Latin America's longest-running war will turn the FARC guerrillas into a political party fighting at the ballot box instead of the battlefield they have occupied since 1964.

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