Colombian FARC rebels demand UN monitors for ceasefire

Commander Ivan Marquez (L) pictured in Havana, Cuba on November 19, 2015 is part of the FARC delegation that on November 26 called for UN oversight of safe zones if and after a peace deal with Colombia's government is reached (AFP Photo/Yamil Lage)

Havana (AFP) - Colombia's FARC rebels called on the United Nations and other international bodies Thursday to monitor proposed safe zones aimed at ending half a century of conflict.

In negotiations with the Colombian government hosted by Cuba, the leftist guerillas have suggested concentrating their troops in special "peace zones" where reparations would be made to victims.

The rebels proposed in a statement Thursday that the forces be "permanently accompanied" by representatives of the United Nations, South American bloc UNASUR and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

The zones "will have mechanisms for citizen oversight" of the de-escalation of the conflict, the FARC said.

The Colombian government has not yet responded to the proposal on peace zones, first floated by the FARC on Tuesday.

After three years of talks in Havana, government and rebel negotiators have been closing in on a peace agreement to end Latin America's longest leftist insurgency.

They hope to reach an agreement in less than six months on the remaining issues, including compensation for victims and a mechanism for ratifying a comprehensive peace agreement.

More than 220,000 people have died in the conflict, which involved drug traffickers and right-wing death squads as well as government troops and the rebels.

FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, founded in 1964, is the largest of two leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia, with an estimated 7,000 fighters. Another rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has about 2,500.

The ELN so far has not joined the peace process, though it has held preliminary talks with the government.