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Colombia’s disarmed FARC rebels float political party

Published: September 02, 2017 20:01:50 | Updated: October 18, 2017 23:38:47


Colombia’s disarmed FARC rebels have their eye on forming a political coalition for the 2018 elections, ex-rebel leaders said on Friday, as the group marked its transition to a political party with a concert in Bogota’s central square. The former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, whose political party will be called the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, ended its part in a war that has killed more than 220,000 people under a 2016 deal which granted amnesty to most of its fighters. Whether the ex-rebels can convince Colombians, many of whom revile them, to back the new party remains to be seen. The decision by the group to preserve its famous FARC Spanish acronym raised eyebrows, given many Colombians associate the word with decades of bloodshed. The FARC will hold 10 automatic seats in Congress through 2026 under the terms of the accord and may campaign for others. FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, speaks during the launching of the new political party Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia Sept 1, 2017. FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, speaks during the launching of the new political party Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia Sept 1, 2017. Both legislative and presidential elections are set for 2018 and the party plans to reach out to ideological allies to try to form a coalition, without abandoning its Marxist commitments to land reform and social justice, the group said. “We are continuing, via an exclusively political path, our historic goal and aspiration for a new order of social justice and true democracy in our country,” said secretariat member Ivan Marquez at a closing event for the group’s six-day conference to inaugurate the new party. “We want our ideas to be available for a transitional government of reconciliation and peace for the elections in 2018, whose foundation will be a great democratic coalition,” Marquez said. The FARC’s often old-fashioned Marxist rhetoric strikes many as a throwback to their 1964 founding, but concrete proposals for reforms to complicated property laws could get traction with rural voters who struggle as subsistence farmers. FARC leaders have repeatedly expressed fears that members could be targeted for assassinations in a repeat of the 1980s killings of some 5,000 members of the rebel-allied Patriotic Union party, which grew out of a failed peace process with the government.

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