Ex-rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño pulls out of Colombia presidenti - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Ex-rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño pulls out of Colombia presidential race

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Former FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño has abandoned his bid for Colombia's presidency. Former FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño has abandoned his bid for Colombia's presidency.
By Ray Sanchez CNN

(CNN) -- Former FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño's short-lived bid for the Colombian presidency has ended because of health issues, the onetime guerrilla group announced Thursday.

Known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, Londoño led the country's most powerful guerrilla force, FARC, throughout lengthy peace negotiations with the government and later declared himself the first presidential candidate in the group's transition into politics.

But those presidential hopes quickly faded after a hospitalization this month, and he underwent surgery for coronary disease Wednesday, FARC Senate candidate Ivan Marquez told reporters in Bogota.

"I'm committed to lead a transition government that will generate conditions for the birth of a new Colombia," Londoño told supporters in late January. "For a government that will finally represent the interests of the poor."

Though FARC's new political party, Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común, will not run a candidate in May's first round of the presidential election, Marquez said former group members will be candidates in Sunday's vote for Senate and House seats.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, whose second term ends in August, is not eligible for re-election.

Colombia and FARC reached a peace agreement in Havana, Cuba, in September 2016 following four years of negotiations and a 52-year civil war that claimed more than 200,000 lives.

Last year, the Colombian Senate approved 10 congressional seats for former FARC combatants.

Londoño has been accused by US State Department of controlling FARC cocaine operations and "the murder of hundreds of people."

US officials have offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

The group was formed in 1964 by rebels inspired by the Cuban revolution in their attempt to forcibly redistribute wealth. Espousing anti-US and Marxist ideology, the group drew the overwhelming majority of its fighters from the rural poor.

It was funded by a sophisticated cocaine trafficking network and was armed with child soldiers.

CNN en Español's Ana Melgar contibuted to this report.

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