The New York Times
October 20, 1998
Former Guatemalan Rebels Register Political Party

          By REUTERS

          GUATEMALA CITY -- 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."

          Guatemalan National 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.

          Asturias said 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.