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Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018

Colombian government seeks new ceasefire with ELN

nsnbc : The Colombian government, responding to international pressure, said that it seeks to resume a ceasefire with the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), but that chief government negotiator Gustavo Bell would remain in Bogota until after Saturday.

Pablo Beltran (archives)

Pablo Beltran (archives)

Chief government negotiator Gustavo Bell returned from the Ecuadorian capital Quito to meet President Juan Manuel Santos after the failure to extend the bilateral ceasefire that expired on January 9.

The situation became more tense after the ELN carried out at least three attacks on Wednesday in response to the failure to prolong the existing or agree on a new truce. The army reported there had been 13 guerrilla attacks and attempted attacks between Wednesday and Friday. At least one soldiers was killed. Two others were injured.

Both the UN and the European Union put pressure on the parties to cease attacks and continue negotiating. The United Nations chief in Colombia, Jean Arnault, said Thursday he will “closely follow” the process.

The members of the Security Council regretted today’s attacks by the National Liberation Army (ELN) and hoped that the Government of Colombia and ELN would resume work to agree a renewal and strengthening of the ceasefire in order to prevent a return to conflict and protect the humanitarian gains achieved over the past three months.

The European Union said Friday the attacks were “unacceptable” and urged a resumption of negotiations. This opportunity for peace must not be squandered. We expect the ELN to cease its attacks immediately and encourage the parties to resume dialogue, so that a peace agreement is soon reached stated the EU.

According to Gustavo Bell he will stay in Bogota until the president tells him to join his fellow negotiators and guerrilla representatives. Bell stated “Following the call of the Church, social organizations, friendly countries and the Security Council of the United Nations, which yesterday expressed its hope that the Government of Colombia and ELN would resume work to agree a renewal and strengthening of the ceasefire in order to prevent a return to conflict and protect the humanitarian gains achieved over the past three months,” the Government reiterates its willingness to reactivate the ceasefire and negotiate a new one”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet with Santos and Bell while visiting the Colombian capital for a briefing on the country’s efforts to demobilize multiple guerrilla groups after decades of civil war.

ELN chief negotiator, “Pablo Beltran,” defended his group’s resumption of attacks, stressing that the army had attacked guerrilla camps twice during the ceasefire. “The truce ended on January 9,.. during those 101 days the ELN upheld the ceasefire. They cannot reject us for events that occurred after the truce,” he said. The ELN also stressed that “the incidents that happened in eastern Colombia occurred in the midst of the complex situation of conflict that the country is suffering.” The ELN negotiators said that the resumption of hostilities “should not change the course of the conversations to achieve a political way out of the conflict.”

A/N & CH/L – nsnbc 13.01.2018

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