June 5, 2017 / 10:09 PM / in 5 months

Colombia to provide some initial funding for rebels' political party

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s Finance Ministry has been asked to provide over $1.2 million in initial funding for the Marxist FARC rebel group’s new political party, the electoral commission said on Monday, as soon as the group finishes a weapons handover.

Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Commander of the Colombian Military Forces,greets his troops during the army's arrival to an area that was previously occupied by FARC rebels, in Meta, Colombia June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

Under a peace deal signed last year by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, the rebels will turn over all their weapons to the United Nations and become a legal political party after more than 52 years of war.

All political parties and presidential and legislative campaigns in the Andean country receive some state funds, though amounts can vary.

“We’ve put forward the request for the FARC political party, a sum of 3.56 billion pesos ... once the arms handover happens,” said Alexander Vega, head of the country’s electoral commission.

The FARC have not yet named their political party, which will participate in elections next year, but Vega said the initial funds will go toward operational costs and a think tank.

The government and the rebels last week extended the weapon hand-in deadline by 20 days, after logistical delays slowed the arrival of some of the group’s nearly 7,000 fighters to special UN demobilization zones.

Reporting by Javier Andres Rojas, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by G Crosse

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