-- Guatemala's former leftist rebels formally
registered to become a political party Monday, thus becoming the
last of Central America's guerrilla movements to jump into the electoral
"Now we can break
the silence," Rodrigo Asturias, formerly known as
rebel commander Gaspar Ilom, told reporters. "We can act not only as
signatories of the peace accords but also as a political party."
Revolutionary Unit members handed their group's
registration forms to the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The group
said it expected the tribunal to take two weeks before approving its
The rebel group
and the Guatemalan government signed peace accords in
December 1996, ending 36 years of civil war.
The group will
now follow Nicaragua's Sandinista National Liberation
Front and El Salvador's Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in
converting itself from a guerrilla force to political party.
Guatemala's next presidential election is set for August 1999.
his group does not plan to field a presidential candidate at
that time. But Francisco Lopez, another official of the group, said it will
have candidates in congressional and mayoral races.
Lopez said it
might form an alliance backing another party's candidate for
president. "We will support the candidate elected by a national political
front, one who supports our causes," he said.