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Published On: Wed, Sep 13th, 2017

Colombia’s envoy asks UN for help in verifying ceasefire with ELN

nsnbc : Jean Arnault, Colombia’s envoy to the United Nations, said he is having discussions on a request for U.N. assistance in verifying commitments in a temporary bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian State and the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN).

Jean Arnault_Colombia_UN Ambassador_Sep 2017The bilateral ceasefire between the State and the National Liberation Army is scheduled to come into effect on October 1. Arnault reportedly told members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), on Monday, that further talks this week will hopefully enable UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make recommendations to Council members “in the very near future” on the request by Colombia’s government and rebels from the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The U.N. has been monitoring a cease-fire between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In July, the Security Council authorized a new follow-up U.N. political mission.

On September 4 the Colombian government and the ELN reached an agreement on the implementation of a bilateral ceasefire starting October 1. In June this year negotiators for the ELN and the administration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed to hold contiguous peace talks in the Ecuadorian capital Quito with the goal to achieve a bilateral ceasefire agreement ahead of the papal visit to Colombia in September. The bilateral ceasefire marks a suspension of more than 50 years of armed conflict between the Colombian state and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Pablo Beltran_ELN_Quito_Euador_Ceasefire_Sep 2017The ELN was founded in 1964 by a group of Catholic priests. Inspired in part by the Cuban revolution and extreme repression in Colombia, its revolutionary philosophy, politics and organizational forms are rooted in liberation theology, Marxism, and to some degree in Anarchio-Syndicalism. The ELN used its Twitter account to announce the bilateral ceasefire under the motto “Yes we can”.

The ceasefire agreement is expected to last until January 12, 2018  and may be extended. The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN launched peace talks in February 2017 after having reached an agreement on the format and modalities of the peace talks in March 2016. President Juan Manuel Santos explained:

“The ceasefire will have an initial validity of 102 days, i.e. it will go until January 12 next year and will be renewed as long as it is met with progress in negotiations along with other points.”

Santos added that his administration prioritizes the protection of Colombia’s citizens, to end kidnappings, attacks on oil pipelines, and other hostilities against the population. The ELN, for its part, commented Twitter:

“We have said that the visit of Pope Francis should be an extra motivation to accelerate the search for agreements, which have been the main target communities that suffer the unfortunate consequences of the conflict”.

As part of the ceasefire, the government reportedly also agreed to improve the conditions of jailed ELN guerrilla and to boost the protection of  political, grassroots and activist leaders. There has been noticed a marked and alarming increase of assassinations and violence against leftist political and grassroots leaders and activists since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) demobilized and disarmed this year.

A/N & CH/L – nsnbc 13.09.2017

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