BOGOTA – The commander of the now-demobilized FARC guerrillas will run for president of Colombia in next year’s election, the party founded by the former rebels announced on Wednesday.
Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, better known by the nom de guerre “Timochenko,” will be the candidate of the Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Commons (FARC), party No. 2 Ivan Marquez told a press conference in Bogota.
He said the FARC was fully engaged in the 2018 race as of Wednesday with its own presidential and congressional candidates, adding that Imelda Daza would be Timochenko’s running mate.
Maza, who lived in exile in Sweden for more than 20 years, is a historical leader of a political party launched by the FARC guerillas in the 1980s, Patriotic Union, thousands of whose members were systematically killed by the security forces and paramilitaries.
Marquez said the party was in talks with Timochenko concerning the details of his eventual return from Cuba to assume the mantle of party chairman and presidential candidate. Timochenko underwent medical treatment on the Caribbean island – and is continuing to recover there – after suffering an ischemic stroke earlier this year.
Colombia’s elections for the Senate and lower house, in which all of those legislative seats will be up for grabs, will be held in March 2018. The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for May of next year.
FARC members will register as candidates for Senate and lower-house races, Marquez said, adding that any seats the party wins will be in addition to its 10 automatic seats in Congress through 2026 under the terms of last year’s peace agreement.
Marquez will be one of the FARC’s six Senate candidates.
“I think there are strong possibilities for political understanding with other parties. We’re going to compete in provinces with the highest turnout,” he added.
The FARC aims to “end the corruption that is impoverishing the country” and demands a “reorientation of the economic model to restore productive capacity and attention to people’s most urgent needs in the areas of health, housing, social welfare, education and culture,” Marquez said.