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    After Historic Peace Deal, FARC Takes First Step Toward Becoming Political Party

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    Less than a month after a historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended more than 50 years of conflict, the FARC has taken a crucial first step toward official political recognition.

    This week, six non-combatant members of the FARC officially inscribed Voices of Peace and Reconciliation as a political movement at Colombia's National Electoral Council. Beginning next week and until 2018, the members of Voices of Peace and Reconciliation will have seats in Colombia's Congress. They will not be able to vote, but they will be able to represent the FARC as the peace agreement is implemented, TeleSur reports.

    "Our voices will be the voices of the peace accord," economist Imelda Daza said at a press conference, AFP reports. "We are here to ensure that the FARC enjoys the necessary prerequisites to become a party in Congress."

    Daza, student leader Jairo Rivera and activist Francisco Jose Tolosa will represent Voices of Peace and Reconciliation in the lower house of Congress; constitutional lawyer Pablo Cruz, economist Jairo Estrada and human rights activist Judith Maldonado will speak for the group in the Senate. While they will speak for the FARC, the six are not active members of the guerrilla group, the group stressed in a statement on its website.

    "These spokespersons… are representatives of the citizenship in order to guarantee and participate in all legislative matters regarding the upcoming laws that need to be passed; among others, the amnesty law, the special jurisdiction for peace, security guarantees for political opposition and the statute of opposition," the December 15 statement read.

    As the peace process is implemented and the FARC is dissolved, the group will have the option of becoming a political party and will be given 10 seats in Colombia's Congress, TeleSur reports. The FARC is then expected to run in Colombia's 2018 general elections.

    The FARC is about to begin de-arming under a UN-monitored demobilization process. The process is to be complete by April.

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    Tags:
    peace process, Voices of Peace and Reconciliation, political party, congress, United Nations, FARC, Imelda Daza, Bogota, Colombia
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