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Colombia FARC looks to strike alliance with ruling party ahead of 2018 elections

FARC leader Rodrigo Londono has said the group will support a candidate in next year's presidential election, hinting at an alliance with the current government. The group signed a revised peace deal this week.

Colombia's FARC chiefs said on Friday they would support a candidate in next year's presidential election to safeguard the revised peace deal signed between the rebel group and the government.

The peace agreement, which converts FARC into a political party, could have some weight in determining Colombia's next president after Juan Manuel Santos stands down next year.

Speaking to journalists, FARC leader Rodrigo Londono said: "We have begun calling for a candidacy that gathers together all the aspirations of those who want peace and guarantees the continuity of these accords."

Once considered the most unlikely of bedfellows, the FARC and Santos' Social Party of National Unity could form an alliance to protect the deal from opponents, led by hawkish ex-president Alvaro Uribe.

"The forces that oppose peace are already campaigning for the elections... so why don't we who want peace start talking now?" asked the veteran fighter, who is known by his nom de guerre "Timochenko."

Negotiator as candidate?

 Although he did not give any names, one person floated as a probably successor to Santos is Humberto de la Calle, the government's chief negotiator in the two-year peace talks.

The Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised peace agreement on Thursday, after an original draft was rejected in a referendum last month.

Watch video 00:33

Colombia, FARC sign peace deal

Former president Uribe has campaigned against the agreement, saying it granted impunity to war criminals - a call a majority of Colombians appear to have heeded when voting in the referendum on the deal.

After signing the revised deal with the rebel goup, the Colombian government sent the agreement for ratification directly to Congress, bypassing a second plebiscite. It is expected to pass after a debate beginning Tuesday. The government and its allies hold a majority in Congress.

"Timonchenko" warned that an opposing party, such as Uribe's right-wing Democratic Center party, could alter or tear up the accord upon taking office. "This is a long-term project," he said. "To consolidate peace after over 50 years of confrontation won't be achieved in a few months or years. We think the next government, the next president, should guarantee the continuity of the process."

dm/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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