EL DIAMANTE, Colombia – The FARC rebel group announced Friday that its fighters voted to ratify an agreement with the Colombian government to end 52 years of civil war in the Andean nation.
“We inform you that the guerrilla delegates have given unanimous support to the peace accord,” senior insurgent Ivan Marquez told reporters following the conclusion of an assembly of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The accord establishes a timetable for the FARC to lay down its arms and provides for international verification of compliance.
The unanimity among the roughly 200 delegates gathered in the remote southern village of El Diamante demonstrates the “internal cohesion” of the rebel army, Marquez said.
At the same time, he called on the FARC’s 1st Front, which opposes the peace deal, to return to the fold and embrace the decisions of the assembly.
“The FARC, in its conversion to a legal political movement, opens it doors to receive you again as members of a single family,” he said, addressing the breakaway combatants.
The peace accord was initialed last month in Havana, the venue for the negotiations that began in November 2012, and is to be formally signed next Monday by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC Commander Rodrigo Londońo Echeverri, better known by the nom de guerre “Timochenko.”
Marquez, who led the rebel negotiating team in Havana, said the delegates in El Diamante voted to expand the FARC’s principal decision-making body, the Secretariat, from nine members to 61 as the organization embarks on the transition to peace.
“The reconciliation of the country leaves neither victors nor vanquished,” he said.
Colombians will go to the polls Oct. 2 for a referendum on the peace accord.