March 7, 2018 / 8:31 PM / in 3 months

Colombian FARC presidential candidate recovering from heart surgery

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The presidential candidate of Colombia’s FARC political party, former Marxist rebel commander Rodrigo Londono, underwent heart surgery on Wednesday and is in intensive care, a Bogota clinic said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO - Colombia's FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) leader and presidential candidate Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, speaks during a news conference in Bogota, Colombia February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

Londono is running for the unarmed reincarnation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group, in the May election.

Local media has speculated he may have to stand down in order to recover, but the party has not directly addressed the issue.

Known by his rebel nom de guerre Timochenko, he was hospitalized on Thursday with chest pains. He is being treated for coronary problems as well as pulmonary sickness and an obstructed cerebral artery.

“The general evolution of the patient is as expected for the type and complexity of the surgery performed, and the short- and medium-term prognosis will be established in the following hours,” the Shaio Clinic said in a statement.

Londono, 59, has long suffered heart problems and had surgery in Cuba while negotiating the terms of a 2016 peace deal with the government.

A woman and a policeman are seen in front of Shaio Clinic, where Colombia's FARC leader and presidential candidate Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, is hospitalised in Bogota, Colombia March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

He was taken to the hospital last week after his daily exercise routine, the group said.

The FARC kept its Spanish-language acronym after demobilization but changed its name to the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force.

Londono suspended campaigning last month because of security concerns after angry protests disrupted campaign stops.

The FARC was known during its long-running armed conflict for kidnappings, bombings and forced displacements. Many Colombians believe its members should be in prison, not campaigning, and recent opinion polls have shown Londono has as little as 1 percent support.

The party has focused its political platform on fighting poverty.

Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Peter Cooney

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