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article imageColombian high court withdraws ex-rebel's parliament seat

By AFP     Jun 14, 2019 in World

A Colombian high court on Friday withdrew the parliament seat for a former left-wing guerrilla leader who never assumed office after negotiating the country's historic peace deal.

Ivan Marquez renounced his seat 11 months ago and went into hiding, claiming the 2016 peace deal that ended more than a half century of conflict was being "disfigured."

The State Council, the highest administrative court in Colombia, said it was stripping Marquez of his seat because he never took office and didn't provide "just cause" for the move, court president Lucy Bermudez told journalists.

When the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) gave up their arms and signed a deal with then-president Juan Manuel Santos, they formed a communist political party that goes by the same acronym and were guaranteed 10 seats in Congress.

Marquez gave three reasons last July for his decision not to take up his seat, one being the arrest three months earlier of a fellow former rebel leader, Jesus Santrich.

The blind Santrich is wanted by the United States on charges of drug trafficking but was released from detention on May 31 following a Supreme Court order.

He was sworn in as a member of Colombia's Congress on Tuesday.

Marquez has previously complained that changes have been made to the peace agreement that were a "betrayal," and lamented the fact that the FARC handed over its weapons "without the prior implementation of the economic and social re-integration of the guerrillas."

Former State Council president Gustavo Gomez told AFP that the withdrawal of Marquez's seat amounted to his "political death."

Marquez responded on Twitter saying: "As long as I'm breathing, I will always have a political life."

High court judges will now decide whether the withdrawal of Marquez's spot means the FARC political party loses one of its Congress seats, or whether it can propose a substitute.

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