Colombian Congress ratifies peace deal with Farc rebels to end decades-old civil war

View of the Colombian Congress' house of Representatives during a session to endorse the new peace agreement signed between the government and the Farc, in Bogota, on Nov 30, 2016.
View of the Colombian Congress' house of Representatives during a session to endorse the new peace agreement signed between the government and the Farc, in Bogota, on Nov 30, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BOGOTA (AFP) - Colombia's Congress on Wednesday (Nov 30) unanimously approved a peace deal with Farc guerillas to end more than a half-century of civil war, lawmakers said.

The House of Representatives voted 130-0 to approve the text adopted a day earlier by the Senate.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the vote provided "landmark backing" for the peace he had pushed.

The government’s chief peace negotiator with the Farc, Humberto de la Calle, had urged lawmakers to ratify the deal, warning the army’s ceasefire with the leftist guerrillas was “fragile”.  

Two Farc fighters and several local activists have been killed since the ceasefire went into force on August 29, triggering fears it could collapse.

The peace deal’s chief opponent, former president Alvaro Uribe, and his allies argued that it grants impunity to rebels guilty of war crimes, giving them seats in Congress rather than sending them to jail.  

Rival protests were held in front of Congress on Wednesday by both advocates and opponents of the deal.  

Colombia’s messy half-century conflict has drawn in multiple leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.  It has left 260,000 people dead and 60,000 missing.