Colombia to get UN peace monitors, possible referendum
Some 400 UN personnel will monitor a disarmament deal ending Colombia's civil war and courts will rule in July whether a referendum can be held to endorse the ceasefire, officials said.
Bogota: Some 400 UN personnel will monitor a disarmament deal ending Colombia's civil war and courts will rule in July whether a referendum can be held to endorse the ceasefire, officials said.
The announcements came yesterday after the Colombian government and the country's biggest rebel force, the FARC, signed a definitive ceasefire agreement, one of the last steps toward ending the half-century conflict.
The next step will be to sign a full peace agreement, which will launch a six-month UN-monitored disarmament process.
Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin told Radio Caracol that at least 400 UN observers would come to monitor the demobilization and disarmament. She said she expects the United Nations to fund the operation.
The estimated 7,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will gather in 23 "normalization zones" for demobilization.
Analysts cautioned that several other points of discussion remain to be settled between the two sides, including how to reintegrate FARC members into civil and political life.
The sides also have yet to agree on where the final deal would be signed.
The government wants it to happen in Bogota while the FARC prefers Havana, where the peace talks have been hosted.
"Some points remain to be negotiated, but it seems clear after yesterday's signing that there will soon be a final accord," said Arlene Tickner, an international relations expert at the University of the Andes in Bogota.
The 180-day deadline for disarmament "seems a relatively short time," she however noted.
President Juan Manuel Santos said ahead of Thursday's signing that he hoped for a full peace deal by July 20, though the timing remained unclear yesterday.
Holguin said the signing of the final agreement was "very, very close."
She said the constitutional court was expected to rule "around the beginning of July" on the government's call for a referendum.
In their ceasefire accord sealed Thursday, Santos and FARC rebel chief Timoleon Jimenez promised to abide by the court's decision.
If a referendum does take place, it would be a symbolic gesture that would take place after the signing of the final peace deal.