Colombia’s FARC says more time needed to hand over weapons

FARC Weapons

The FARC guerrillas won’t meet a May 29 deadline to hand over their weapons under the terms of last year’s peace accord with the Colombian government, a rebel negotiator said on Friday.

Completing the disarmament process will require at least two additional months, Jesus Santrich told a press conference in Bogota.

“This issue is being touched on at this moment by a commission of guerrillas and the government,” he said. “I can’t talk about conclusions until the meeting ends.”

The roughly 7,000 combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are currently gathered in 26 “normalization” zones, known collectively as the ZVTN, where UN monitors have drawn up registers of rebel weapons.

Roughly 1,000 FARC guns have been handed over to UN personnel.

Santrich blamed the delay in disarming on the government’s failure so far to create the “basic conditions” in terms of physical security or enabling demobilized insurgents to begin the process of reincorporating themselves into civilian life.

At some ZVTN sites, he said, the containers to hold surrendered weapons have yet to arrive.

He added, however, that he was confident that FARC disarmament could be completed within another two or three months.

Speaking of the peace process as a whole, Santrich said that full implementation would likely take more than a generation, given that the conflict itself lasted 52 years.