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End in Colombia ceasefire with ELN without agreement on renewal

The government seeks to extend the bilateral truce and the guerrillas ask for time to renegotiate

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End in Colombia ceasefire with ELN without agreement on renewal
More information
  • The Government of Colombia is ready to extend ceasefire with ELN
  • Santos puts front of dialogue with ELN to vice President Gustavo Bell

The bilateral ceasefire between Government of Colombia and guerrillas of National Liberation Army (ELN) ends on Tuesday without an agreement on its renovation. The executive of Juan Manuel Santos, as president himself said on weekend, seeks to extend truce agreed last September on eve of pope's visit. However, most active insurgent organization in country after demobilization of FARC now raises more demands on state.

The negotiating teams on both sides met on Monday in Quito, capital of Ecuador, to begin a new cycle of talks. They all expressed ir readiness to republish Covenant. But understanding about substance of matter is not enough. The ELN gave this Tuesday by end of cease-fire. "Today, Tuesday, at 24 hours ends cessation, which lasted for 101 days," said guerrilla leader in charge of contacts with government, Pablo Beltrán, who also launched a warning to authorities.

More soldiers to fight narco

The Colombian armed forces launched weekend a new operation to deploy about 2,000 soldiers in municipality of Tumaco, one of most affected by drug trafficking.

"We simultaneously transport 2,000 armed, equipped and trained military personnel to combat threats in Department of Nariño," Pacific region in which port is located, Colombian Air Force said. The struggle for control of coca among a dozen criminal organizations has aggravated social conflict in this department in recent months.

"We were ones who placed most for this cessation to come forward. This is balance that we are going to start looking at table. It means that anor cessation government, which supposedly has political will, more encouragement, more force, more than us, has to place more than put it on this opportunity, because it is about demonstrating political will, "he said in Caracol Radio.

Since October, when truce began, tension between state and ELN has not ceased and several violations of agreement have been recorded by this guerrilla, which was born in 1964 almost at same time as FARC and has about 2,000 combatants. In se three months, at least 14 people were killed, according to calculations of resource Centre for Conflict Analysis (CERAC), including an indigenous governor of Department of Chocó, in northwestern part of country. In that region, one of most affected by armed conflict, operates most uncontrolled column, so-called Western War front Omar Gomez. His commander, known as Uriel, ordered his men back to arms. "All of our units were already oriented to reactivate normal activities and are in position," he reported.

The dialogue with ELN, which officially began in February 2017, has barely progressed. The ceasefire was result of climate generated in September by pastoral voyage of Pope Francis. However, negotiations are now resumed with a new impetus. Before Christmas, Santos appointed a new head of talks. This is Gustavo Bell, Vice-president of Andrés Pastrana, who replaces Juan Camilo Restrepo in post.

The Church and United Nations, guarantors of that truce, called on authorities and insurgency to preserve now "achievements in area of violence reduction" and highlighted "humanitarian relief" for rural communities. They also stated " need for a more robust ceasefire agreement that generates greater trust between parties and in Colombian society".

The peace with ELN is for Colombia, toger with fight against drug trafficking, one of biggest challenges to guarantee coexistence in field. The FARC has already surrendered weapons and will attend upcoming elections, but agreements with America's oldest guerrillas have not been enough to bury violence. According to experts, negotiating process with this organization, founded on a oretical foundation that mixes Marxism and Christianity, will be slow and complicated. Its structure, less hierarchical than that of FARC, does not guarantee, for example, strict fulfillment of orders of its leaders. The management of this challenge will, in any case, be in hands of president who leaves polls in elections in May.

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