Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian Congress ratifies new Farc peace accord

Protesters gather outside Congress in Bogota for the debate. 30 Nov 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Rallies for and against the peace deal took place outside Congress in Bogota

Colombia's Congress has approved a revised peace accord to end the 50-year conflict between the government and the Farc rebel group.

The lower house ratified the pact a day after it was endorsed by the Senate, despite objections from the opposition.

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

The first peace accord was rejected in a referendum, but the revised version does not require a popular vote.

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 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.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption At its height, the Farc was estimated to have some 20,000 active fighters (Image: 1999)

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

But the public voted by a narrow margin not to approve the deal when it was put to a referendum in October.

Opponents to the deal said it gave too many concessions to the Farc, including leniency for those who had committed crimes during the conflict.

In the wake of the surprise referendum result, the government and rebel leaders made changes to the deal.

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

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

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