After 53 years of conflict, Colombia's largest rebel movement launches a political party. The FARC vows to bring prosperity and democracy to the country.

Leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sit before an audience of former guerrillas as they lead the FARC's National Congress in Bogota, Colombia on August 27, 2017. (AP)
Leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sit before an audience of former guerrillas as they lead the FARC's National Congress in Bogota, Colombia on August 27, 2017. (AP)

Disarmed fighters from Colombia's leftist FARC rebel force sought political rebirth on Sunday as they launched steps to transform into a party after ending a half-century armed struggle.

The six-day meeting in Bogota is expected to conclude on Friday with a platform that the party will campaign on in elections next year.

"At this event, we are transforming the FARC into a new, exclusively political organisation," said the force's commander Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko.

He said the group will advocate "a democratic political regime that guarantees peace and social justice, respects human rights and guarantees economic development for all of us who live in Colombia."

TRT World spoke to Mariana Palau in Bogota.

Under its 2016 peace deal with the government to end its part in a war that has killed more than 220,000 people, the majority of fighters in the group were granted amnesty and allowed to participate in politics.

The deal was rejected by a less than one percent margin in a referendum before being modified and enacted.

The group handed in more than 8,000 weapons and nearly 1.3 million pieces of ammunition to the United Nations during their demobilisation following the peace deal. 

Colombia's Marxist FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, speaks during the installation of the National Congress of the FARC in Bogota, Colombia. August 27, 2017. (Reuters)
Colombia's Marxist FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, speaks during the installation of the National Congress of the FARC in Bogota, Colombia. August 27, 2017. (Reuters)

Party's name 

The group will meet mostly behind closed doors this week to choose a name for the party and election candidates.

Another former commander of the force, Ivan Marquez, said he expected the movement to call itself the Alternative Revolutionary Force of Colombia.

However, Timochenko canvassed opinion on Twitter and most respondents favoured the name "New Colombia."

The organisation has signalled that it will adhere to its Marxist roots and focus on winning votes from peasants, workers and the urban middle class with a social justice platform.

But it faces opposition from many who identify the guerrillas with kidnappings and terrorism.

A poll released in August found that fewer than 10 percent of Colombians said they had total confidence in the rebels.

A large majority said they'd never vote a former guerrilla into Congress.

This week, the FARC announced that it is open to coalitions.

Fractured by infighting, leftist parties have long struggled in conservative-leaning Colombia, despite some success in winning urban positions.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies