MS Risk Blog

ELN Announces Readiness to Call Bilateral Ceasefire with Government

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Late last month, Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, announced that it was ready to call a bilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government while they negotiate an end to five decades of war.

According to the National Liberation Army’s (ELN) negotiator Aureliano Carbonell, “we are willing to have a bilateral ceasefire from the beginning…That would help create another climate to the peace process; send the nation a positive message.” He went on to say that the ELN would allow former President Alvaro Uribe’s participation in the talks, adding “we agree that Uribe, or a representative, participates at the negotiating table. Peace is made with adversaries and Uribe leads the biggest war mongering sector.” Uribe is the strongest opponent of the FARC accord and demands that rebel commanders are jailed for their crimes.   Juan Camil Restrepo, chief government negotiator, has said that he will seek a “de-escalation” of the conflict.

The government and the ELN will begin formal peace talks in Ecuador on 7 February, once the insurgent group frees a kidnapped politician and authorities pardon two jailed rebels. The sit down will effectively end three years of back and forth between the two sides. Officials are also hoping that it will stop a conflict that has pitted leftist rebels against right-wing paramilitaries and the military, killing over 220,000.

Any early bilateral ceasefire would contrast with the FARC talks, which stretched for four years in Cuba and which were conducted mostly amidst fighting and bomb attacks. A bilateral ceasefire was only called in the final stages of the talks.

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