Despite earlier claims that the FARC would not put forth a presidential candidate in Colombia’s 2018 election, the group now says it does not rule out proposing a candidate of its own.
During a controversial homage to former FARC commander Victor Suarez, AKA “Mono Jojoy,” on Friday, one of the FARC’s leaders, Carlos Antonio Lozada, told attendants the former guerrillas’ new political party has “candidates for the House and Senate, [and] we’re not dismissing the idea of a candidate to replace [current president] Santos.”
The FARC’s integration into the sphere of formal politics is part of a major national peace process that seeks to end more than half a century of political violence that has left more than 8 million victims.
As part of that process, the former rebel group recently converted into a new political party called the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the People (FARC).
According to the peace agreement between the FARC and the government, in the 2018 congressional elections the new party will have the opportunity to take up to five seats in the House and five seats in the Senate, or approximately 3% of the congressional seats.
The Colombian congress has still yet to pass a law fully outlining that process.
One of the contentious and unresolved issues surrounding the bill is whether to allow FARC members who are under investigation by the transitional justice tribune for war crimes to simultaneously run for elected positions.
The peace accord between the FARC and government also allows the FARC to put forth a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections.
In January FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, or “Timochenko,” told Argentine magazine Crisis that the former Marxist rebel group would not put forth a presidential candidate in 2018.
Instead, he claimed the new political party would throw their support behind a candidate who supports the implementation of the peace deal.
Overall, Colombian society is deeply divided and agitated over the peace process that allows former rebel guerrillas, thousands of whom are suspected of grave war crimes, to participate in politics.
The peace process seeks to end a war the majority of Colombians were born in and, rather than in victory or defeat, ended in compromises that for many are hard to swallow.