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Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini
Friends at last.
DROP YOUR WEAPONS

The last major hurdle to ending Colombia’s 50-year-long civil war has just been crossed

By Ana Campoy

After half a century of fighting, the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, have agreed to put down their guns.

The two parties said Wednesday (June 22) that they have agreed to a ceasefire, the last major hurdle (link in Spanish) towards signing a peace deal to end the country’s bloody civil war. Under the agreement, the FARC will give up its weapons and the government will guarantee rebels’ safety afterwards.

Details will be released Thursday, when the ceasefire will be formally signed before a slate of international dignitaries, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The government and the FARC have been negotiating a peace agreement in Havana for more than three years, slowly untangling an entrenched conflict that has directly killed some 265,000 people (Spanish), and displaced nearly seven million others. In December, they settled on how to provide restitution to the millions of war crime victims through an innovative arrangement that experts say could serve as a model for other countries torn by civil war.

But then the parties failed to meet a March deadline to sign a final peace agreement. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said a final deal will occur by July 20.

Colombians would still have to approve the peace agreement through a referendum. Polls show that the majority would vote yes.