Colombian govt, FARC rebels ask UN to monitor end of conflict

Juliana, a 20-year-old rebel fighter for the 36th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rests from a trek in the northwest Andes of Colombia, in Antioquia state. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
The Colombian government and the country\’s largest rebel group say they are requesting a United Nations observer mission to monitor a cease-fire and disarmament process that would end the Western Hemisphere\’s longest-running conflict. Both sides say they hope to reach a final peace deal by March 2016.
Colombia\’s government and FARC rebels said Tuesday they have asked the United Nations to monitor the eventual end of their five-decade conflict and the disarmament of the Marxist guerrilla group.
Raising hopes that they are close to a final peace deal, negotiators from both sides said they had asked the UN Security Council to send an unarmed observer mission to Colombia for 12 months to oversee the end of the conflict once an accord is signed.
The "political mission" will comprise observers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a 33-nation regional group, said government and rebel negotiators in a joint statement in Havana, where they have been holding peace talks since November 2012.
The mission will work alongside the FARC and the government in a tripartite body over which the UN observers will preside, settling disputes, making recommendations and issuing reports.
The two sides have made several key advances in recent months, notably in September, when they signed a deal on post-conflict justice and President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC chief Timoleon Jimenez vowed to conclude a peace deal within six months.
But the FARC said last week that "substantial hurdles" were jeopardizing the March 23 deadline.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was launched in the aftermath of a peasant uprising in 1964.
The Colombian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced six million, has over the years drawn in right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers and several leftist rebel groups, of which the FARC is the largest remaining.

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