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Colombia

Colombian rebels confirm victim reparations ahead of peace accord referendum

Colombia's FARC rebels have said they will forfeit their assets in order to pay victim's reparations. The announcement has come ahead of a nationwide referendum on the peace deal between rebels and the government.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, confirmed  Saturday that they will pay damages to victims of the country's long civil war.

Initially, the guerrilla group said they did not have money to pay victims since all their funds went into the war effort. However, the FARC said they will forfeit all assets to fund the reparations, as per the terms of the recent peace accord.

"We will proceed to declare before the government all the monetary and non-monetary resources that have formed part of our war economy," the Marxist group, which has fought the government for 52 years, said in a statement.

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Colombian authorities have said the FARC possesses large tracts of land as well as cattle ranches, shops and construction companies. These assets have allegedly helped the rebel group launder money gained from kidnapping and extortion as well as drug trafficking.

Critics of the peace deal have argued that the rebels would not pay reparations even if they had money available.

"We will proceed to the material reparations of victims," the FARC statement said. The peace deal requires FARC to surrender all money and properties before the group can transition into a political party.

The reparations will be given to the victims of FARC murders, kidnappings, bombings and displacements.

Referendum for peace

The peace deal was signed by the leftist rebels and the government on Monday after over a decade of conflict and four years of negotiations.

Colombians vote Sunday on whether or not to accept the peace accord in a nationwide referendum. The measure is set to pass by a wide margin, according to recent polls.

Colombia's civil war, which began in 1964, killed an estimated 260,000 people and left an additional 45,000 missing. The conflict also displaced nearly 7 million people in a country of 47 million.

If voters approve the peace deal on Sunday, FARC guerillas must disarm and demobilize within 180 days. The process will be monitored by the United Nations.

rs/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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