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Colombian FARC expelled five commanders

Colombian FARC expelled five commandersColumbia’s FARC rebels expelled five commanders for refusing to join the peace process with the government and demobilize, according to guerrilla leadership on Thursday.

"The path of peace should not be hampered by a group of reckless people who, ignoring the yearnings of peace of the vast majority of our people, throw themselves off a cliff of personal ambition," said the FARC in a statement.

The five commanders are all from units in the country’s southeastern jungle, including one former participant in four-year-long peace talks in Cuba. They have been named as Gentil Duarte, Euclides Mora, John Cuarenta, Giovanny Chuspas and Julian Chollo.

The dissenting commanders and their followers would be pursued in the interests of protecting the peace process, Colombian Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas stated.

“Those who are not part of the (peace) process. Those who declare their dissidence from the FARC or who simply become criminals for money, property, gold, dollars, pesos… let them go with them... They are a high value objective. We will pursue them because the peace process is serious to those who are in it,” Villegas said.

In July a First Front unit leader and some of his fighters left the group in protest of the deal.

The expelled commanders are the second group of rebels to declare their opposition to the peace deal. Law enforcement and military officials fear that some rebels will not demobilize and will instead keep control of lucrative coca-growing and cocaine-smuggling operations and joining the ranks of the country’s feared criminal gangs.

The modified peace deal between rebels and the government has been approved by Colombia’s Congress and some 7,000 rebels now have six months to move to demobilization zones and hand in all weapons.
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