Congress of Colombia Votes to Confirm FARC as Political Party
On Wednesday Colombia's House of Representatives voted 86 to 17 to approve the entry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, into electoral politics.
The new law — which requires final approval by Colombia's elected Senate — will guarantee FARC at least five seats in the House and five in the Senate until the 2026 elections, as well as formalize its participation in the upcoming 2018 elections.
The vote came on the same day that the FARC formally began the disarmament process mapped out in the peace agreement signed last November.
The law also ensures that the political party created by FARC will be eligible for funding by the Colombia's electoral commission.
Pastor Alape, a member of the FARC secretariat and one of its key peace negotiators, told TeleSUR that the founding party conference will take place next May, and that "the new party will have revolutionary principles."
This is not the first time the rebel group has had a place in Colombia's electoral system.
In 1985, during peace negotiations with the Betancur government, the FARC joined with Colombia's Communist Party to form the Patriotic Union, UP, which one several seats in Colombia's Congress during the 1986 elections.
However as peace talks with Betancur broke off in 1987, and UP candidates and officials were targets of right-wing paramilitary violence, the party dissolved.
In November of last year, the FARC and the Colombian government signed a historic peace agreement ending the 52-year civil war which led to the death and displacement of tens of thousands of Colombians.