Colombian rebels-turned-politicians sworn into Congress

Colombian rebels-turned-politicians sworn into Congress

BOGOTA, Colombia – With the swipe of a taupe shade of eyeshadow and the swearing of an oath, Sandra Ramirez’s transformation from rebel guerrilla to senator was complete. Eight ex-combatants with Colombia’s once-largest rebel group were sworn into office Friday in another crucial step in implementing the country’s peace accord, taking seats in Congress alongside some lawmakers who for years were bitter enemies. "This is a big responsibility we’ll be shouldering," said Ramirez, the widow of a legendary guerrilla leader. "It’s a change from life in the mountains, from boots in the mud." The fledging politicians represent a small faction in a Congress that has the task of pushing forward key aspects of the peace agreement. The rebels were guaranteed 10 seats in the legislature as part of the accord, a stipulation that has angered many Colombians. In his address to the new legislature, outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged the hesitation of Colombians to embrace the former rebels as lawmakers, but he said including them in politics is a powerful demonstration of democracy. "It fills me with satisfaction that those who for more than half a century fought the state and its institutions with arms today bow to the constitution," Santos said. The oath ceremony comes just weeks before conservative Ivan Duque assumes the presidency amid signs that the peace accord remains on shaky ground. Duque vowed throughout his campaign to modify important aspects of the agreement, though he has softened some of his positions since the polarizing […]

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