Updated 07:26 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 23, 2020

Colombia’s FARC Rebels Expected to Hold Political Positions After Peace Deal

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A top guerilla leader said that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, will enter politics and pursue alliances with other parties after it signs a peace accord with the government.

 

"We will be in politics without arms," FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timochenko, said in a recent interview with local magazine Semana, as reported by Reuters. "We will enter a political scenario where it will be fundamental to unite the largest number of forces possible to guarantee the deal is fulfilled. We will put our arms to one side and take up the political struggle."

The FARC and President Juan Manuel Santos' administration have been in talks since late 2012 to end five decades of war that has killed over 220,000 people and displaced millions, Reuters noted.

Negotiations, which are being held in Cuba, have reached agreements on land reform, combating illegal drug trafficking, guerrilla participation in politics, transitional justice, efforts to search for missing persons, and remove land mines, Reuters listed. A United Nations mission will oversee rebel disarmament once a deal is signed.

According to Londoño, the FARC's political party could take part in 2018's legislative and presidential elections, the news outlet added. He noted that all sectors of Colombia, including aggressive opponents like former President Alvaro Uribe, must commit to assisting the implementation of a peace agreement.

The rebel group, however, fears that they may be targeted by right-wing armed organizations if they aim for political positions, Reuters reported. Paramilitaries, at times aided by military officials, have systemically killed 5,000 members of the left-wing Patriotic Union party in the 1980s, including two presidential candidates.

"A common question is: 'Comrade, will the same that happened to the Patriotic Union happen to us?' That is the fear," said Londoño, as quoted by Reuters.

Londoño also believes that 90 percent of all FARC guerillas will abandon their arms once a peace accord with the Colombian government is signed, the Associated Press reported (via Yahoo! News).

His statement is a response to the warning made by several Colombian political experts, who said that hundreds of the 7,000 FARC guerillas may have become so dependent on the cultivation of coca for their income that they wouldn't give up its production or their weapons, the Associated Press wrote.

Santos has urged the United States last month to remove FARC from the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, where it has been included for nearly two decades, once a peace deal is signed, the Guardian reported. The Colombian president also asked the Obama administration to suspend drug warrants against guerilla commanders if the peace accord pushes through.

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