Colombian rebels nearing deal on land reform

Updated 26 May 2013
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Colombian rebels nearing deal on land reform

HAVANA: Colombia’s leftist rebels said yesterday that they are close to a deal with the Bogota government on land reform, one of the most contentious items in their protracted peace negotiations.
“Yes, it should be finished tomorrow, and a joint document will be presented, signed by both sides,” the FARC’s Andres Paris told reporters, without revealing details of the agreement.
Paris made his remarks at the entrance of the Havana Convention Center, where months of negotiations so far have focused almost entirely on land reform — the first of five agenda items to be discussed.
Another delegate from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Laura Villa, read a communique declaring the rebel group welcomes “a partial agreement on the first item of the agenda.”
The struggle for land reform, Villa said, is among the “profound changes that the country needs to achieve the genuine democracy and social justice.”
Land distribution was one of the triggers of the decades-old conflict Colombia, where there is gaping inequality that divides wealthy landowners and poor peasants.
If they succeed in finishing up land reform talks this weekend, both delegations will take a break of several days, and then begin talks on political participation.


Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

Updated 42 min 51 sec ago
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Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

  • Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday killing at least 9 people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30 A.M. and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.
“At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far 9 people have died. They included four members of a family,” fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam said.
Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.
Rights groups have in the past alleged some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-story buildings.
“We have seen fires are used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.