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Hollande to visit FARC encampment on official Colombia trip

French President Francois Hollande will visit Colombia in late January, but the visit has drawn criticism from those opposed to the peace deal with FARC. Hollande is planning to visit a FARC demobilization center.

The former president of Colombia and leading opposition lawmaker Alvaro Uribe on Sunday lashed out at French President Francois Hollande over a planned visit to the country later his month.

Colombia's government confirmed over the weekend that Hollande would visit one of 26 areas where Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas are currently gathering to demobilize over a period of six months.

Uribe, a sharp critic of the peace deal reached in November last year between President Juan Manuel Santos' government and Marxist guerillas, said on Twitter: "Hollande, the president of France who cannot confront jihadist terrorism, will visit a Colombia handed over to the FARC."

Hollande will visit Colombia between the 22 and 24 of January, when he is expected to visit a guerilla demobilization site in Cauca province. 

The French government has historically been a close observer of the decades-long Colombian conflict, particularly since French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped and spent six years in the jungle in FARC captivity. Betancourt, who had been married to a French diplomat and was running for Colombian president at the time of her kidnapping, became a cause celebre in France and was rescued in a 2002 secret operation coordinated by the French, American and Colombian governments.

UN-monitored demobilization set to begin

The UN is monitoring the demobilization of some 5,700 FARC fighters as part of a peace deal to end a nearly 50-year conflict that has claimed more than 260,000 lives and displace several million civilians.

Led by Uribe, opponents of the peace deal are against parts that will grant FARC fighters amnesty and see the rebel group transform into a legal political movement.

Even with the peace deal signed and demobilization set to begin, implementation of the deal is likely to encounter many hurdles over the next months.

Watch video 00:34

Colombia approves guerrilla 'amnesty law'

cw/xx (EFE, dpa)

 

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