Dozens of members of Colombia's largest guerrilla group have started gathering in a campground in the remote central savannah as they prepare to approve a historic peace deal and re-forge their 52-year-old organization as a political party.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will begin their 10th National Conference on Saturday in an expanse known as the Plains of Yarí in south-central Colombia. The event will end on Sept. 23, when the FARC give formal approval to a peace deal.
In video provided by the group, FARC Commander Timoleón Jiménez and the leaders of other major guerrilla blocs are seen arriving near the site of the conference.
The event comes as both sides have already declared a ceasefire and the guerrillas have opened up the meeting to the public. More than 300 media outlets and more than 900 people — from journalists to researchers and academics — are expected to attend.
Colombian and FARC negotiators spent almost four years in Havana, Cuba, hammering out a peace deal to put an end to the hemisphere's oldest and bloodiest conflict.
The agreement will be formally signed on Sept. 26 in the Colombian port town of Cartagena. At least a dozen regional leaders and the head of the OAS and the United Nations will be on hand for the event.
On Oct. 2, the country will go to the ballot box to either approve or reject the peace deal. Most polls show that the vast majority of Colombians are prepared to accept the deal, despite worries that it will allow FARC leaders to avoid jail time in exchange for telling the truth about their crimes and laying down their weapons.