August 31, 2017 / 11:35 PM / 4 months ago

Colombia's FARC rebels keep famous acronym for new political party

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s disarmed FARC rebel group is preserving its famous acronym as it becomes a civilian political party, part of its demobilization under a peace deal with the government to end more than 50 years of war.

Colombia's Marxist FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, seen during the installation of the National Congress of the FARC in Bogota, Colombia August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels, whose first political conference will close on Friday with a concert and speeches in Bogota’s central square, will now go by Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, preserving the Spanish initials.

Under the 2016 peace deal to end its part in a war that has killed more than 220,000 people, most of the group’s fighters were granted amnesty and allowed to participate in politics. Whether the rebels will get backing from Colombians, many of whom revile them, remains to be seen.

The group had originally floated several other names, including others which kept the initials, but the new name won against New Colombia in voting at the conference on Thursday, FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, said on Twitter.

FARC leadership and social media accounts also posted a graphic of the party’s policy priorities and its new logo, a red rose with a red star in the middle.

Policies will included the fight against corruption and promoting arts and culture.

“No more traditional political parties and their corrupt policies. Transparency and truth will guide the actions of the new party,” the graphic reads. “Youth, women, indigenous people, rural farmers, Afro-Colombians, artists, the LGBTI population, housewives, students, workers and the unemployed - everyone’s opinion matters.”

The FARC’s often old-fashioned Marxist rhetoric strikes many as a throwback to their 1964 founding, but proposals for reforms to complicated property laws could get traction with rural voters who struggle as subsistence farmers.

Under the peace accord, FARC’s party will have 10 automatic seats in Congress through 2026 and may campaign for others. Both legislative and presidential elections are set for 2018.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Grant McCool

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