Bogota (AFP) – Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels announced Monday they will launch as a political party on September 1, a major step as the group transitions into civilian life as part of a historic peace agreement.
“We will publicly launch the party on September 1 in the Plaza de Bolivar,” in Bogota, guerrilla commander Carlos Antonio Lozada told AFP after a news conference by the group, almost a month after it completed its disarmament.
Lozada, whose real name is Julian Gallo, said the group had been working on the details of the “great political-cultural act.”
“We made peace to participate in politics,” FARC chief negotiator Ivan Marquez said.
The FARC political party’s policies and name will be decided at a congress at the end of August.
The disarmament last month by the roughly 7,000 members of Colombia’s biggest rebel group under the 2016 peace accord brought a complete end to a half-century-old civil conflict between the FARC and the government.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for reaching the historic deal with the FARC that was signed last November.
The accord was narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum last year before it was redrafted and pushed through congress.
The country’s only remaining rebel group, the smaller ELN, is currently following the path set by the FARC to negotiate a peace deal aiming to disarm and demobilize.
The civil conflict has left 260,000 dead. About 60,000 Colombians remain unaccounted for and seven million have been displaced in the conflict.