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Farc suspends elections campaign amid violence

Colombia’s former rebel group the Farc halted its transformation into a political power on Friday when it suspended its election campaign due to violent threats. 

The Farc, once the biggest rebel groups involved in the country’s half-century civil war, disarmed last year and launched a political party as part of a 2016 peace deal. 

As part of a deal, for which Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Prize, the Marxist group put down their 7,000 weapons in exchange for a chance to take part in elections. 

But many Colombians still seethe at giving the former fighters 10 seats in Congress and allowing their leader, Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, to run for president. 

The group has since faced angry protests on campaign trail – with people throwing rocks at rallies and labelling Timochenko a “murderer”.

Rodrigo Londono, known as “Timochenko,” is transitioning from guerrilla to politician

Credit:
 Ivan Valencia/Bloomber

Infamous for violence and kidnappings in the Western hemisphere’s longest running conflict, the Farc, previously known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, said they felt threatened by the chanting “mobs” at the rallies. 

They temporarily halted their campaign on Friday amid safety concerns, claiming mobs were putting their members in danger. The group has said the disruptions are being incited by the right-wing opposition party, Democratic Centre.

“We call on all parties and political movements, without exception, to reject this type of provocation and we invite them to meet at a summit to agree on rules of fair play for the current electoral campaign, where arguments, ideas and proposals prevail over verbal aggression and physical violence,” the Farc said in a statement. 

The Farc will take part in parliamentary elections next month and presidential elections in May – promising to fight poverty and corruption. The group formed in 1964 to defend the rights of peasants and quickly became the country’s largest rebel group, eventually waging a long guerrilla war.

Many Colombians feel giving the former fighters 10 seats in Congress is unfair 

Credit:
LUIS ROBAYO/ AFP

Though Colombia has improved security over the past decade, rebels and drug traffickers still remain active.

The National Liberation Army (ELN), the last active rebel group in Colombia, has been in and out of peace talks with the government for the past year. Negotiations were halted after the group bombed pipelines and resumed kidnappings in January. 

Two weeks ago the group launched a series of bomb attacks, targeting three police stations – killing seven officers and injuring dozens more. 

The country is also under strain as neighbouring Venezuela falls deeper into crisis. Tens of thousands of people are crossing the border every day as the country is  crippled by food shortages and the world’s highest inflation. Colombia’s government this week said it would tighten its border controls to end the exodus.  

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/09/farc-suspends-elections-campaign-amid-violence/

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