UN suggests pushing back date for FARC to lay down Its arms

The head of the UN mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, proposed Saturday that a later date be set for the FARC to hand over its arms, due to the delay in constructing facilities for the guerrillas’ demobilization.

“According to what we have learned, the process of building camps, including the facilities where the UN mission will monitor the arms gradually being stored there, will not be completed before the end of March,” Arnault said in a message that was leaked to the press.

Because of that situation, he asked: “Will the parties agree to pushing back the date when the mission will begin the gradual reception of arms?”

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was originally given 180 days to reach the provisional demobilization zones (ZVTN) where it would lay down its arms and disband, a period expected to end by June 1.

In the message, sent to the commission doing the follow-up on how the final agreement is being implemented, Arnault said that most of the FARC camps in the ZVTNs “are not ready” nor “have they even been laid out satisfactorily.”

The guerrillas began their trek to the demobilization zones weeks ago and by this Saturday all were expected to have arrived.

In the letter, the head of the mission asks whether both parties would “consider other options for the gradual handing over of arms.”

UN officials told EFE they had not distributed the message, but that it had been leaked to several media.