Colombia's Congress on Wednesday passed a law granting amnesty to FARC rebels as part of the country's peace deal, a development the government hailed as "historic."
"Thanks to the Congress which in a historic vote approved the amnesty law, first step toward consolidating peace," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter.
The measure grants special legal treatment, amnesty and pardon to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) accused of political and related crimes.
The Senate passed the bill 69-0, after the House of Representatives approved it 121-0.
The amnesty bill is part of the November 24 pact aimed at ending five decades of conflict.
Video: The final days of the FARC guerrilla
Former president Alvaro Uribe spearheaded opposition to the peace deal after nearly four years of negotiations to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
The former president and his allies argue the deal grants impunity to rebels guilty of war crimes, giving them seats in Congress rather than sending them to prison.
The conflict has killed more than 260,000 people and left 45,000 missing.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) traces its origins back to the repression of a peasant revolt in March 1964.
Pedro Antonio Marin, better known as Manuel Marulanda or Tirofijo (Sureshot), was the FARC’s first leader.
The first FARC members consisted of 48 men and just two women. But women soon made up 40 percent of its frontline soldiers.
The 1990s were marked by FARC attacks on military bases and the kidnapping of army soldiers for ransom.
Five decades of armed conflict in Colombia have left around 250,000 people dead and 45,000 more disappeared.
Previous attempts to broker peace, including in 1999 under former president Andres Pastrana, consistently met with failure.
In July 2008, Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt made headlines after she was freed from FARC rebels in a daring operation.
The late 2000s were marked by military setbacks for the FARC, including the killing of Raul Reyes, the group’s deputy leader.
Top negotiators for the Colombian government and the FARC shake hands after signing a final peace deal in Havana on August 24, 2016.
Date created : 2016-12-29