MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Zapatista National Liberation Army says it will choose an indigenous woman as its independent candidate for the country’s 2018 presidential election.

The rebels say in a Friday statement they will begin consultations to select the candidate. It did not participate in Mexico’s past elections.

The 2018 presidential contest will be the first to allow independent candidates not aligned with a political party.

The Zapatistas rose up on Jan. 1, 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas to demand rights for indigenous people.

The group was known for its leader Subcomandante Marcos, since re-baptized Galeano. He and the other rebels hid their identities with ski masks.

While the rebels never abandoned their arms, they have not used them since the uprising and later signed a peace accord with the government.