Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas are to end their 101-day ceasefire, but ELN leader, Pablo Beltran says there needs to be a “consensus” to extend the temporary truce.
Beltran said he hoped there would be no “erosion” of the ceasefire before an extension could be agreed. The ceasefire’s expiration comes as rebel and Colombian government negotiators resume peace talks in neighboring Ecuador.
Nonetheless, he has warned his forces to be alert to possible “offensive operations” by the Colombian army.
ELN and the Colombian government have reached an important stage, that is, to develop the talks during the bilateral ceasefire. Parties must try to maintain that. Meanwhile we hope that there is no escalation.
Both sides have separately said they want the ceasefire to be extended, but an accord has remained out of reach because of mutual accusations of failure to meet commitments.
The rebels accused president Juan Manuel Santos and his security forces of killing seven coca leaf farmers, and of other military operations carried out in areas of ELN influence.
However, there were no reports of direct confrontations between the army and the rebels, which is unprecedented in the history of Colombia’s conflict. The ELN has an estimated 2,000 fighters in its ranks, which operate in the Bolivar/Santander region close to the border with Venezuela.
A pact with the ELN would close the last chapter of a half-century conflict in the South American nation, following a deal struck by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Santos in November 2016 with the much larger FARC insurgents.
Under its peace deal, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has disarmed, demobilized its fighters, and transformed into a political party using their same acronym.
Colombia’s long internal conflict created around 8 million victims, including those killed, made to disappear and displaced from their homes.
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Yahoo 7 News / AA-Magnum Analyst News 2018.