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Published On: Sun, Feb 11th, 2018

Colombia’s FARC suspends 1st election campaign since its demobilization last year

nsnbc : Colombia’s FARC on Friday, said the party will suspend its campaign for the first elections since the demobilization and disarmament of the FARC-EP in 2017, reiterating that they will need better security guarantees after several of their campaign events were suspended due to violent protests.

FARC suspends 2018 election campaign_FARC_Colombia_Feb 2018FARC campaign workers in several cities have received death threats, stated the FARC leadership. Threats and fear caused by more than 30 assassinations of FARC members and the killing of 13 family members led to the cancellation of several election campaign events. Violent protests and lack of adequate security, resulting in mobs being able to hurl stones and bottles at campaigners – and getting away with it – contributed to the FARC leadership’s decision.

The FARC noted that it will take legal steps against the far-right Democratic Center party that, according to the FARC, “sponsored and promoted violent manifestations”. The Democratic Center, the party of ex-president Alvaro Uribe, has opposed the peace process and the peace accord between the State and the FARC-EP signed in December 2016.

The peace accord and the subsequent demobilization and disarmament of the FARC-EP and its transformation into a non-militant political party using the acronym FARC, effectively ended 52 years of civil war between the parties. The only standing, major leftist guerrilla left in Colombia is the National Liberation Army (ELN). Peace talks between the State and the ELN have been complicated by the election campaign and political posturing rather than pragmatism.

paz_peace_colombia_farc_nov-2016Commenting on  the violent manifestations, the FARC leadership said “The right to protest cannot be used as an argument to justify acts or behavior deemed criminal by the Colombian justice system. … We call on all political parties and movements … to agree on the rules of fair play for the current electoral campaign, where arguments, ideas and proposals prevail over verbal aggression and physical violence”.

The FARC called on its own supporters “not to be provoked” and “maintain calm.” The FARC were, as part of the December 2016 peace accord, guaranteed 10 congressional seats as part of a 2016 peace deal with the government, but can obtain more seats through regular votes. Their political participation was one of the FARC-EP negotiators’ main demands, along with political reform, rural reform, a truth finding commission, compensation for victims of the more than 5-decades-long war, transitional justice, illicit crop substitution and more.

A transitional justice tribunal will being hearings later this year in an attempt to seek justice for the millions of victims left by the armed conflict that began in 1964. Colombia’s political history has been plagued by partisan violence, initially between liberals and conservatives and later between the country’s ruling class and the Marxist rebels.

The UN mission in Colombia previously stressed that security for former FARC-EP guerrilla, especially during the election campaign, is utterly inadequate and insufficient. Colombia’s Ombudsman office also commented on the situation stressing that Colombia keeps assisting in the extermination of community leaders.

CH/L & A/N – nsnbc 11.02.2018

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