Former Colombian rebel leader says taking up arms again

AFP , Thursday 29 Aug 2019

Ivan Marquez of the political party of FARC speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia April 10, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

 A former senior commander of the dissolved FARC rebel army in Colombia said Thursday he is taking up arms again along with other guerrillas who have distanced themselves from a peace accord signed with the government.

"We are announcing to the world that the second Marquetalia has begun," Ivan Marquez, dressed in military fatigues, said in a video posted on YouTube, referring to a rural enclave considered a birthplace of the FARC in the 1960s.

The whereabouts of Marquez, the Marxist FARC's number two leader, had been unknown for more than a year.

He was the chief rebel negotiator in talks that led to a 2106 accord that ended half a century of armed conflict in Colombia.

But Marquez and a fugitive rebel colleague, Jesus Santrich, have since distanced themselves from the agreement. Santrich also appeared in the video.

With UN support, the peace accord ended the insurrection by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and turned it into a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, which uses the same FARC acronym.

While it hasn't ended violence in the country -- other left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers are still waging their battles -- it has helped to reduce it.

Conservative President Ivan Duque was elected last year with a promise to modify the accord, which he considers too lenient on ex-fighters guilty of serious crimes.

The FARC political party, meanwhile, has denounced delays in the application of the accord as well as a lack of legal guarantees and security for its members.

It has pointed to what it says are the murders of 140 former guerrillas, and 31 of their family members, since the agreement was signed.

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