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News > Latin America

FARC to Participate in Colombia's 2018 Elections

  • A FARC rebel looks at a photo of legendary guerrilla leader Ernesto

    A FARC rebel looks at a photo of legendary guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara in San Vicente del Caguan, Colombia, Oct. 1999. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 August 2016

Members of the FARC argue the group has always been a political movement and that the peace accords allow it to become an unarmed political movement.

Colombia’s soon-to-demobilize FARC guerilla army will participate in the country’s next general elections in 2018 as part of the final peace agreement with the government that ends a civil war that has raged for 52 years.

A New Era of Peace in Colombia After Half-Century War

In a government press conference Thursday, the day after the much-anticipated announcement of a final peace deal and the end of negotiations in Havana, Cuba, official negotiators stressed that the historic agreement offers an opportunity for a new era of political participation.

According to the final text of the peace agreement, the FARC will be guaranteed five seats in both Colombia’s lower house of Congress and the Senate in the next two election cycles in 2018 and 2022. The movement will still run in the elections as part of the process of securing those seats. Only if the FARC’s new political party falls short of winning the five seats would the remainder of guaranteed representatives be assigned.

The deal indicates that the signing of the agreement will spur the government to put in place “the constitution and legal reforms necessary to ensure, through a transitional formula, the new political party or political movement’s representation in Congress.”

Political participation was one of the six core points on the negotiating table during the nearly four-year process to reach the final accord this week. Members of the FARC stress that the group has always been at its foundation a political movement, but that the peace accords will finally pave the way for former rebels to become a non-military political movement. FARC rebels will have 180 days to demobilize, under international monitoring, after the official signing of the deal.

Colombia's War and Peace Through the Eyes of a Dutch FARC Rebel

On Thursday, President Juan Manuel Santos also ordered a definitive cease-fire against the FARC effective Mon., Aug. 29 as the longest-running war in the Americas comes to a close.

FARC and government negotiators agreed to a bilateral cease-fire deal in June, marking a crucial milestone in the final steps of securing a comprehensive agreement. Outstanding issues that were resolved in the final agreement include political participation and social and economic reincorporation into society of former FARC combatants, as well as other end of conflict measures.

Government negotiators also countered right-wing critics of the deal on Thursday, saying that the costs of reintegrating demobilized FARC rebels through the peace deal are much less than the economic costs of war, let alone the high price paid through the lives of victims over more than five decades of armed conflict.

Speaking in Havana on Thursday, chief FARC negotiator Ivan Marquez stressed that the end of the conflict is only the beginning of an ongoing process of building a stable and lasting peace in Colombia that works for social justice and equality.

Colombians will vote on the peace agreement in a plebiscite on Oct. 2 to ratify the deal with society. President Santos delivered the final text of the accord to Congress President Mauricio Lizcano on Thursday to begin making preparations for the vote just over five weeks from now. An official signing of the deal will take place before the plebiscite.

If Colombians vote “yes” in the plebiscite, the FARC will have non-voting representation in Congress until the next election in 2018.

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