The Americas

Colombia's FARC kicks off last congress as guerrilla army

  • Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, arrive on top of a truck to El Diamante, in southern Colombia, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. FARC rebels are gathering for a congress to discuss and vote a peace accord reached with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. Historically secretive, this congress is the first one open to civilians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

    Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, arrive on top of a truck to El Diamante, in southern Colombia, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. FARC rebels are gathering for a congress to discuss and vote a peace accord reached with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. Historically secretive, this congress is the first one open to civilians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, arrive to El Diamante, in southern Colombia, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. FARC rebels are gathering for a congress to discuss and vote a peace accord reached with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. Historically secretive, this congress is the first one open to civilians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

    Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, arrive to El Diamante, in southern Colombia, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. FARC rebels are gathering for a congress to discuss and vote a peace accord reached with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. Historically secretive, this congress is the first one open to civilians. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rebels wait of the start of the X Conference of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, in Yari Plains, southern Colombia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Rebels leaders and delegates are gathering to debate and vote on the accord reached last month with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

    Rebels wait of the start of the X Conference of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, in Yari Plains, southern Colombia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Rebels leaders and delegates are gathering to debate and vote on the accord reached last month with the Colombian government to end five decades of war. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)  (The Associated Press)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is kicking off its last conference as a rebel army as it looks to transition into a political movement following the signing of a peace accord.

The FARC's top leader addressed about 500 mostly unarmed and semi-uniformed guerrillas who had arrived from all parts of Colombia to attend the meeting that started early Saturday.

The bearded leader known by his alias Timochenko said that over the next week commanders will ratify a peace accord reached with the government last month and debate political strategy going forward.

Timochenko and President Juan Manuel Santos will sign the accord next week in the city of Cartagena. After that Colombians will be asked in an Oct. 2 referendum to ratify or reject the deal.