Colombia’s ELN rebels say they have not agreed to ceasefire
Petro, himself a guerrilla, has vowed to end the Andean nation’s six-decade internal conflict, which has left at least 450,000 dead. His government held the first round of peace talks with the ELN in December.
At the weekend Petro said that Colombia will maintain a six-month ceasefire with the ELN and four other armed groups.
“The ELN negotiating delegation did not discuss with Gustavo Petro’s government any proposal for a bilateral ceasefire, and therefore no agreement exists on that issue,” the ELN said in a published statement. on his website.
The December meeting in Caracas only covered the setup of the negotiations and its agenda, the ELN said, adding that the next cycle in Mexico is also set to cover the agenda of the talks. .
“Once we finish (that issue) it is predicted that we will be available to discuss the bilateral proposal for the cessation of hostilities, to examine the terms to make an agreement possible,” added the rebels.
Petro’s office said it had no immediate comment, but that the president will meet with the government’s high commissioner for peace and officials in the ministries of Interior and Defense.
The government said this weekend that it will issue a decree for each armed group with specific conditions for the cease-fire and that the cease-fire will be verified by the United Nations, among others.
Previous attempts at negotiations with the ELN, which has around 2,400 fighters and was founded in 1964 by radical Catholic priests, have failed in part because of disagreements within its ranks.
Rebel leaders say the group is united, but it is unclear how much influence negotiators have over active units. Most of the ELN’s negotiating team is older than most of its members.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosota and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Paul Simao)