Bogotá, Dec 31 (EFE).- Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro has announced a bilateral ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN), FARC dissidents and paramilitary groups from Jan. 1.
“We have agreed to a bilateral cessation with the ELN, the Segunda Marquetalia, the Central General Staff, the AGC and the Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada from January 1 to June 30, 2023, extendable according to the progress in negotiations,” Petro said on Twitter shortly before midnight on Dec. 31.
“Total peace will be a reality,” he added
Petro’s office said that the government has received letters from civil society, the Church and many community organizations asking for the cessation of violence.
Since he took office on Aug. 7, Petro and his government have defended a “total peace” policy that has already managed to resume negotiations with the ELN in Caracas.
“It is my wish at the end of the year that peace be possible. This is a bold act. The bilateral ceasefire obliges the armed organizations and the state to respect it. There will be a national and international verification mechanism. May peace be between us. Happy New Year,” added the president.
According to the information provided by the presidency, the bilateral cessation will have national and international verification by the UN Verification Mission, the Mission to Support the Peace Process of the Organization of American States, the Ombudsman’s Office and the Catholic Church.
At the moment, “a ceasefire with other organizations is not contemplated,” added the presidency, but the government will review the results of the processes underway and other unilateral ceasefires to make future decisions.
The announcement did not take long to generate applause, including from the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Colombia and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu.
“I salute the announcement of the bilateral ceasefire made by the President @petrogustavo. The United Nations supports all efforts aimed at reducing violence in the territories, protecting the communities affected by the conflict and building peace in Colombia,” he said on Twitter. EFE