Colombia and FARC Rebels Sign Accord

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Marxist rebel leader Timochenko signed an accord ending 51 year old war that killed a quarter of a million people.

The end of Latin America’s longest-running war will turn the FARC guerrillas into a political party fighting at the ballot box instead of the battlefield they have occupied since 1964.

Influential former President Alvaro Uribe and others are angry the accord allows rebels to enter parliament without serving any jail time.

Colombians will vote on Oct. 2 on whether to ratify the agreement, but polls show it should pass easily.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, began as a peasant revolt, became a big player in the cocaine trade and at its strongest had 20,000 fighters. Now its some 7,000 fighters must hand over their weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.

Colombians are nervous over how the rebels will integrate into society, but most are optimistic peace will bring more benefits than problems.

With peace achieved, Santos, a member of a wealthy Bogota family, will likely use his political capital to push for tax reforms and other measures to compensate for a drop in oil income caused by a fall in energy prices.