The Colombian government and rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) on Monday (26 September) evening signed a historic peace agreement in a bid to put an end to 50 years of conflict. President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Rodrigo Londono signed the accord at a ceremony attended by 2,500 foreign dignitaries and special guests, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The 90-minute ceremony was held from the ramparts of Cartagena, which is also called the "Heroic City" in memory of the vital role it played in Colombia's battle for independence from Spain.
At the beginning of the event, the president unlocked a giant door with a metal key to symbolise a new chapter in the history of the country. All the dignitaries and guests wore white apparels in sync with the theme of the event.
Addressing the gathering, Santos said the peace accord will bring to an end generations of bloody conflict that has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions. "No more war! No more war!" Santos said and added that the event will now create the conditions for wounds to heal and the country to prosper. He also urged the citizens to ratify the accord in the 2 October national referendum, the Associated Press reported.
To the Farc leaders, Santos said: "When you begin your journey back to society, when you begin your conversion into a political movement, I, as head of state of the fatherland we all love, want to welcome you to democracy."
Londono, who is more popularly known as Timochenko, said the peace accord should serve as an example to war-torn Syrian, the Palestinians and Israelis. He warned that joining the national political movement does not mean they would stop fighting for social justice.
"Let no one doubt that we are going into politics without weapons. We are going to comply (with the accord) and we hope that the government complies," Londono said. He also apologised for the years of bloodshed caused by their movement.