Colombian Court Gives Green Light for Ex-rebels to Take Part in Politics

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Colombia's constitutional court on Wednesday approved a reform that will enable rebels who lay down their arms after a peace process to take part in political life, it said.

The constitutional amendment, approved by lawmakers in 2012, was given the green light by seven of the court's nine justices, the court said in a statement.

The news took on added importance coming just hours after President Juan Manuel Santos said he was ready to start negotiating peace with the country's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), "as soon as possible."

Santos hailed the rebels' release this week of a Canadian hostage and said "the government was ready to start a dialogue with the ELN as soon as possible," in a statement released by his office.

Since November, the Santos government has been engaged in talks with Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The talks have taken place in Cuba.

Before the negotiations started, the FARC renounced kidnappings and freed its last police and military hostages in April of last year.

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