November 30, 2018 / 7:30 PM / in 5 months

Colombia FARC leader Timochenko cancels trip to Mexican inauguration

FILE PHOTO - Colombian former FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko makes declarations to the media after attending a hearing of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal in Bogota, Colombia, July 13, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The former commander of Colombia’s demobilized FARC rebels, Rodrigo Londono, has cancelled a trip to Mexico to attend the inauguration of new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador because of health concerns.

The trip by Londono, who now heads the FARC’s political party and is better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, would have marked the first time he attended an inauguration.

The 2016 peace deal between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) put an end to the group’s role in more than five decades of war in the Andean country that killed 260,000 people and displaced millions.

Londono’s trip was approved by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal, which is tasked with trying FARC and military leadership for human rights violations and war crimes.

But Londono, 59, who has suffered repeated heart problems, decided at the last minute not to travel.

“I’ve just been through some very complicated procedures, first a cardiovascular accident and then an open heart surgery. I have to take care of myself and don’t have the resources to take a doctor to accompany me,” Londono told journalists at a UN event.

Londono had been given permission by the tribunal to remain outside of Colombia between Friday and Dec. 4. The tribunal earlier said that Londono had travelled to Mexico City on Friday, but in fact, Londono never left on the trip.

He and another former guerrilla were invited to the Saturday ceremony by Mexico’s Labor Party, which is part of Lopez Obrador’s coalition.

The FARC debuted as a political party in March legislative elections, receiving just 50,000 votes. It has 10 legislative seats guaranteed through 2026 under the peace deal.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Leslie Adler

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