Colombia clears path for former FARC members to hold office

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, left, and the head of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez, shake hands during the second signing of the historic peace agreement.

Story highlights

  • Five seats in the Senate and five in the House will be reserved for former FARC combatants
  • FARC candidates could potentially run for elected office as early as next year, if certain conditions are met first

(CNN)Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the Colombian Senate has approved 10 congressional seats for former FARC combatants interested in holding elected office.

Five of those seats will be in the Senate and the remaining five in the House of Representatives. FARC candidates could potentially run for elected office as early as next year.
President Santos stressed that this was the purpose of the peace agreement, for the FARC to give up their arms and "to be political without violence".
    But there are stipulations that must be met first. Once the disarmament process culminates on May 31, those interested in running will need to be at peace with the country's judicial team.
    Along with the announcement of green lighting a new political party, Santos unveiled the "Colombia at Peace Fund." The organization will receive and administer monetary resources from the national budget for the post-conflict phase of the agreement.
    "Resources of the 'Colombia at Peace Fund' will be handled with transparency. I asked the Comptroller General of the State to create a special commission to watch over it," Santos said in a tweet.
    The Colombian government and the FARC signed a peace agreement in Havana in September of last year following four years of negotiations and more than half a century of fighting.
    But Colombians rejected that agreement in a referendum vote, setting back negotiations. It was then that the government invited opposition parties to revise the agreement, and the final deal was approved by Congress.