Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the head of the country’s leftist FARC rebels have agreed on a cease-fire and rebel disarmament deal that moves the country to the brink of ending a 52-year war that has left more than 220,000 people dead.
At a ceremony in Havana on Thursday, Santos and FARC commander Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, listened to the reading of a deal laying out how 7,000 rebel fighters will demobilise and hand over their weapons once a peace accord is implemented. The Associated Press said that in attendance was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a special US envoy and the presidents of Cuba, Chile, Venezuela and other Latin American countries.
A 15-year, US-backed military offensive thinned rebel ranks and forced FARC's aging leaders to the negotiating table in 2012.
In Mr Santos, a US-educated economist and scion of one of Colombia's richest families, the rebels found a trusted partner who hailed from the conservative elite but wasn't bound by its prejudices.
Momentum had been building toward a breakthrough after Mr Santos said this week that he hoped to deliver a peace accord in time to mark Colombia's declaration of independence from Spain on July 20.
But the latest agreement went further than expected.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies