Proposal grants Colombia's FARC equal rights as political party

by admin February 2, 2017 at 12:04 am

Feb. 1 (UPI) — Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo on Wednesday will present a draft proposal to Congress detailing how the FARC rebel group, once disarmed, can become a fully functioning political party.

In a statement, Cristo said the statutory law “provides guarantees of participation to Colombians,” which includes members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel group. The law will be reviewed under the “fast-track” expedited process, which is how President Juan Manuel Santos’ peace deal with FARC was approved in December by the bicameral legislature.

“We ratified a project for the creation of a political party of the FARC that establishes the rules for its creation, financing and participation,” Cristo said Wednesday.

The proposal, which will be first filed in the House of Representatives, would grant FARC’s party the same rights as other political parties, such as state funding for operations and campaigns, as well as the opportunity to put forth a presidential candidate in Colombia’s 2018 election.

The effects of the proposal would only engage once FARC fully disarms and formally registers as a political party. FARC previously said it hopes to register by May following the disarmament process.

“The transit of the FARC to legal political activity will be recognized in full legal status,” the draft proposal reads.

FARC’s proposed party would also be exempt from a minimum participation threshold to be recognized. Political parties in Colombia receive federal funding each year that matches the funding they gathered themselves. In 2017, Colombia’s political parties will split about $11 billion.

FARC will also receive the same access to communication services to spread its ideology, Cristo said. The party will also be allowed to designate a delegate to Colombia’s National Electoral Council who would have a voice but not the power to vote.

Under the proposal, FARC has until 2026 to obtain at least five seats in the Senate and five seats in the House or it would lose its status as a political party.

More than 220,000 people have died and 5 million have been internally displaced due to the Colombian conflict since the FARC’s Marxist-inspired founding in 1964. The militant rebel group has been involved in drug-trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activity to fund its insurgency.

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