BOGOTA – Colombia’s government said on Thursday that the implementation phase of its peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group would begin immediately.
“What we need now is certainty, action, to move toward implementation,” Peace Commissioner Sergio Jaramillo said in a press conference a day after Colombia’s Congress approved the historic pact.
That implementation process includes the movement of FARC rebels to 23 so-called Temporary Hamlet Zones for Normalization (ZVTNs), the handover of their weapons to a UN mission and the further constitutionally sanctioned development of the agreement in Congress, including approval of an amnesty law for guerrillas who are not accused of serious crimes.
“The process in Havana has ended,” Jaramillo said, referring to the nearly four years of peace talks in the Cuban capital.
The agreement approved by Congress was signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known by the nom de guerre Timochenko, on Nov. 24 in Bogota.
That deal was a modified version of an earlier pact inked in late September but narrowly rejected a few days later in a national referendum.
The new agreement incorporated suggestions by proponents of a “no” vote in the plebiscite, although the deal’s chief opponent – former President Alvaro Uribe, Santos’ predecessor and erstwhile boss – still rejects it as too lenient on the guerrillas.
Santos on Wednesday described Dec. 1 as D-Day and noted that the timetable for the guerrillas to gather in the ZVTNs would begin on that date, with all of the rebels to be concentrated in those zones by Dec. 30.
The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize recipient also recalled that the FARC had 150 days as of Thursday to turn in all of its weapons to a UN mission and thereby transform itself from an armed organization into a political party.