Colombia calls off ceasefire with ELN guerrillas

Bogota, Jan 4 (EFE).- Colombia’s government has suspended a ceasefire agreement with the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla organization, interior minister Alfonso Prada said Wednesday.

The move comes a day after the ELN announced that they were not observing the bilateral ceasefire announced by Colombian president Gustavo Petro on the evening of December 31.

“In view of the position publicly assumed yesterday … we have decided to suspend the legal effects of decree 2657 of December 31, 2022,” Prada said during a press conference at the Casa Nariño government headquarters.

The official, however, stressed the matter would be revisited in the next round of talks.

While it was in force, the truce stipulated the suspension of military and police operations against the ELN.

Prada arrived to the press conference with peace commissioner Danilo Rueda and defense minister Ivan Velasquez to discuss the future of the peace process after the ELN’s move on Tuesday.

On New Year’s Eve, the Colombian president said that the government had agreed on a six-month bilateral ceasefire that would be in effect until June 30 with the ELN and four other illegal armed groups.

But the ELN said that its delegation “has not discussed with the government of Gustavo Petro any proposal for a bilateral ceasefire” during the latest round of talks, which ended on December 12 in the Venezuelan capital.

The contradictory statements released by the government and the guerillas have cast doubt and uncertainty on the peace negotiations with the ELN and sparked criticism against Petro for announcing an agreement that did not come into force.

Prada explained that Petro’s announcement came in accordance with the ELN declaring a “unilateral ceasefire” on December 19 that was in effect from December 24 until January 2 “to create an environment of peace” between Christmas and New Year’s.

The bilateral ceasefire is a “response mainly to the communities and social organizations that ask for peace in the territory,” Prada pointed out, saying the support this measure has received from the international community and different entities, including the United Nations, was significant.EFE


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