Colombia's FARC won't field candidate for president after Timochenko heart surgery
Long-time rebel group, now a political party, cites criticism of process and candidate's health for withdrawal
The political party formed by Colombia's once-largest rebel group withdrew a former guerrilla commander from the race for president on Thursday, citing both criticism of the political process and his serious health problems.
The ex-rebel Rodrigo Londono, more commonly known by his nom-de-guerre Timochenko, won't seek the presidency in the May 27 election, leaders of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force said.
It had halted its legislative and presidential campaigns due to security concerns when angry mobs hurled eggs and shouted "Murderer!" at Londono. Leaders also said that hundreds of its members have been killed or jailed and the group has had to endure crippling financial restrictions.
Contesting congressional races
In addition, Londono is recovering from coronary bypass surgery performed Wednesday. Doctors diagnosed him with chronic lung disease and a clogged artery.
The former FARC rebel best known by his alias Pablo Catatumbo said in an interview on Caracol Radio in Colombia that the group would not name a candidate to replace Londono in the presidential race.
The group said, however, that it will press ahead by keeping its candidates in Sunday's congressional elections.
"We continue to struggle for a great national unity," the group said in a statement encouraging its supporters to cast their votes and insisting it remains committed to ongoing dialogue toward "democratic peace" and "social justice."