Colombia: First steps by government and ELN for mutual ceasefire

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The government of Colombia and ELN rebels on Friday, at the end of the second round of peace talks in Mexico aimed at ending some six decades of civil strife.

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“We announce the start of the ceasefire process”mentions an agreement that was presented during a meeting of the delegations of the two sides, with Colombian Vice President Franca Marquez present.

The framework of the forthcoming agreement will be international humanitarian lawaccording to the text, which was read by the indigenous Diana Domico, a member of the delegation of the government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro.

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Means “humanitarian actions and dynamics to reduce the intensity of the conflict” and “to facilitate the participation of the population in the peace process” especially “in the areas where the humanitarian crisis is most severe,” the text adds.

It’s about the “first steps towards a ceasefire”commented Pablo Beltran, a member of the delegation of ELN negotiators.

The war in Colombia has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced eight million others.

“This is a demand of the entire Colombian nation. We heard his cry and we think the ELN delegation heard it too”emphasized Otti Patinho, a government negotiator, once a leader of M-19, a far-left urban guerrilla group—he laid down his arms in the 1990s—to which President Petro himself belonged in his youth.

Delegations of the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army, officially the last rebel organization continuing the armed struggle in the Latin American country, have been negotiating in Mexico since February 13.

The aim of the second cycle was to lay the foundations for a ceasefire to be declared.

In it, the government gave the ELN the status of an “armed political rebel organization,” a gesture the group welcomed as a necessary condition for the continuation of the peace process.

On Wednesday, the parties announced that the third round of negotiations would take place in Cuba, without specifying a start date.

Havana had hosted the negotiations that culminated in the 2016 peace deal that led to the disbandment and disarmament of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), for decades the country’s largest rebel group.

Talks between Bogotá and the ELN had begun in 2018 in Havana during the days of the government of former president Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), but his successor Ivan Duque (2018-2022) ended them in 2019 after an attack of the rebels against the police academy in Bogotá with 23 dead.

Source: News Beast

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