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Colombian guerrilla candidate drops out of race for president

Jim Wyss, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's FARC political party on Thursday dropped out of this year's presidential race, as their candidate, former guerrilla commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londono, recovers from heart surgery.

In a statement, the political party cited Wednesday's surgery and the overall political environment for the decision, saying they were abandoning "our presidential aspirations."

The FARC -- formerly the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- signed a peace deal in November 2016 that put an end to the hemisphere's oldest and largest guerrilla group.

Under the terms of that controversial agreement, the FARC are guaranteed 10 congressional seats in Sunday's legislative election.

The presidential vote will take place May 27, but Londono was running dead last in many polls amid a crowded field. As he struggled with health issues on the campaign trail, he was often heckled, threatened and attacked.

In the statement, the FARC accused the government of violating the spirit of the accords by not creating a safe political environment for dissenting voices, and for not releasing former guerrillas that the group considers political prisoners.

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"We are committed, with all our determination, to break all ties between violence and politics," the group said. "Even so, since the signing of the final (peace) agreement, more than 50 ex-guerrillas or their families, and more than 250 social leaders, have been killed."

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