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UN sacks peace observers in Colombia for dancing with FARC rebels

© Sebastian Herrera, Gobernacion del Meta, AFP | Handout picture released by the Gobernacion del Meta showing a UN observer in Mesetas, Colombia on January 5, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-01-06

The United Nations said Thursday it has sacked four members of its monitoring mission for the Colombian peace process for dancing with FARC rebels at a New Year's Eve party.

The UN is overseeing the FARC's disarmament as part of a peace deal the leftist guerrillas signed with the government to end a more than five-decade conflict.

But controversy erupted when Colombian media broadcast videos of UN monitors, dressed in their pale blue uniform vests, swaying to the tropical beats with FARC fighters in their arms at a camp in northern Colombia where the rebels are gathering before laying down their weapons.

The UN said that after investigating the incident, it had decided to "separate" three monitors and their supervisor from its mission.

It said their behavior was "inappropriate" and "does not reflect the mission's values of professionalism and impartiality."

"They will no longer work for the UN mission in Colombia and will return to their countries of origin," a spokeswoman told AFP.

The monitors' names and nationalities were not given.

One was Portuguese, the military's joint staff said in a statement from Lisbon. It said the soldier in question had been recalled over the incident.

The FARC's 5,700 fighters are currently gathering near 26 zones where they are due to demobilize over a period of six months.

The UN has sent 280 monitors to oversee the process, a contingent set to eventually number 450.

President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged "delays" and "problems" in the process during a visit to Mesetas, in the central department of Meta, which will play host to the largest demobilization zone, with about 650 rebels expected.

Santos met with senior FARC officials to try to help speed the arrival of the rebels in the demobilization zones.

Founded in 1964, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the largest rebel group in a conflict that has claimed more than 260,000 lives.

(AFP)

Date created : 2017-01-06

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