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Gustavo Petro, who is due to take office as president on August 7 in Colombia, offered the ELN and “all armed groups” a “bilateral ceasefire” on Tuesday. Negotiations with this guerrilla had been interrupted in 2019.
The elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, proposed on Tuesday July 5 to the National Liberation Army (ELN) a bilateral ceasefire to relaunch peace talks with this guerrilla considered as the last active in the south-eastern country. American since the disarmament of the FARC.
“The message that I send today, not only to the ELN but also to all armed groups, is that the time for peace has come (….) What I ask is a bilateral ceasefire,” said Gustavo Petro, who is due to take office on August 7.
After the signing of a historic peace agreement with the ex-guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc, Marxists) in 2016, negotiations were started with the ELN the following year under the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), first in Quito then in Havana. But they were interrupted by his successor, the conservative Ivan Duque, after an attack on the police academy in Bogota, in which 22 cadets were killed in January 2019.
The day after Gustavo Petro’s election on June 19, the ELN, a Guevarist guerrilla founded in 1964 in the wake of the Cuban revolution, expressed its “full readiness” to negotiate with the first left-wing president in history. recent from Colombia.
Despite the peace agreement in 2016 which allowed the demobilization of the majority of FARC fighters, Colombia is experiencing an upsurge in violence from dissidents and armed groups who are vying for control of drug trafficking and mining. illegal mining.
According to the authorities, the ELN currently has some 2,500 members, compared to about 1,800 at the time of the negotiations. It is mainly present in the Pacific region and on the border with Venezuela.
Gustavo Petro also indicated that once relations with Venezuela have been restored, as he promised during his campaign, he wanted to dislodge the armed groups that operate on both sides of the border between the two countries.
A Farc leader killed
At the same time, the former Farc guerrillas, which have become a political party under the name of Comunes, denounced on Tuesday the assassination by a sniper of one of its leaders in the south of the country.
Ronald Rojas, 41, was shot and killed near the town of Neiva on Monday, bringing to “333 the terrifying number of peace accord signatories murdered”, the majority under President Ivan Duque, in power since 2018, denounced on Twitter Rodrigo Londoño, the head of Comunes.
The head of the UN mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, spoke on Twitter of “a leader committed to his territory, to dialogue and the process of reintegration” of former rebels, stressing the “need to strengthen the security of ex-combatants and peace leaders”.