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Colombia FARC rebels seal historic disarmament

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Luis Acosta

Leftist rebels in Colombia have turned over nearly all of their fighters' individual weapons as part of a historic peace deal reached with the government past year to end a half century of conflict, the United Nations said Monday.

The UN said it has registered "7,132 weapons, except from those which, as established in the agreement, will remain to provide security for the 26 transitional camps of the FARC guerrillas" until August 1.

The rebels were supposed to have turned in all of their weapons by the end of May under the original terms of the peace deal signed past year to end Colombia's long-running conflict, but there have been numerous delays. I can say from the bottom of my heart that to live this day, to achieve this day, has made worthwhile being president of Colombia, ' said President Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

The United Nations certified this week that it had received 7,132 firearms and weapons from a similar number of FARC fighters. "We exist as a legal movement", said Londoño.

The former fighters are now due to make the transition into civilian life.

Some of them will get amnesty or reduced sentences for crimes committed during the conflict. "What's more important is we are witnessing step after step the willingness of the FARC to really demobilize and reintegrate and that should be reinforced by the state and government in fulfilling the promises and agreements signed". They have to sign a pledge that they will never use weapons again.

The FARC launched its uprising in 1964 to fight for land rights and protection for poor rural communities.

Mesetas was once a Farc stronghold during the 52-year conflict with the state in which 260,000 people lost their lives.

"It marks the end of the main guerrilla group in the western hemisphere", said Jorge Restrepo, director of the conflict analysis center CERAC. Peace with the FARC, however, is unlikely to end violence in Colombia as other combatant groups like the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary People's Movement (MRP) continue their armed struggle against the government.

The ELN started talks with the government this year, though it has been blamed for ongoing confrontations with state forces.

Officials say remnants of right-wing paramilitary groups are also fighting the ELN in rural areas for control of the drug trade that has fueled the conflict.

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