Colombian FARC rebel leader Timochenko suffers stroke, days after historic disarmament

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 1:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 9:35pm

The leader of Colombia’s FARC rebel group, Rodrigo Londono, was hospitalised Sunday after having a stroke, and is in “satisfactory” condition, doctors at the clinic said.

Londono, 58, better known by the nom de guerre “Timochenko,” is awake and alert after being admitted to a university hospital in the city of Villavicencio in central Colombia, according to doctors at the facility.

The clinic was located near the spot where the FARC - short for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - declared it had finished the process of disarming just days before, effectively dismantling Latin America’s oldest armed guerrilla force after more than a half-century of civil war.

Timochenko assured supporters via Twitter that “all is well,” as he thanked those concerned about his health and the doctors treating him.

Doctors said the FARC leader admitted himself to the facility after noticing “a change in his manner of speaking” and a loss of muscle strength“ - especially in his left arm.

Clinic chief Lydis Herrera told reporters that Timochenko was diagnosed with a brief stroke-like attack known as a transient ischemic attack, adding that his symptoms have improved by 90 per cent.

People with this type of condition are usually hospitalised for 24 to 48 hours so long as there are no complications, according to Herrera.

Timochenko is “conscious and even made some jokes,” said Pastor Alape, a FARC leader.

A FARC statement said Timochenko was in “stable” condition.

Timochenko felt the first symptoms as he was preparing to visit one of the 26 sites across the country where the approximately 7,000 FARC members are gathered as part of the process to return to civil society.

A peace accord was narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum last year before it was redrafted and pushed through congress.

Since then, the process has been blighted by ongoing violence involving other armed groups.

The conflict that began when the FARC launched its uprising in 1964 has left 260,000 people confirmed dead, more than 60,000 missing and seven million displaced.