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  • Members of the ELN in an unspecified region of Colombia.

    Members of the ELN in an unspecified region of Colombia. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 January 2019
Opinion

Colombia's President Ivan Duque is not willing to resume peace talks until the National Liberation Army agrees to a unilateral ceasefire.

Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) is asking for a bilateral ceasefire and to resume the peace dialogue with the government, halted since President Ivan Duque took office last August.

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Colombian Congress Requests President Duque to Meet with ELN

“We are asking the government to sit down an negotiation, to immediately resume the dialogue table, to retake the already agreed upon agenda and address all the issues, without any restriction, that concern or interest one or the other part,” said the insurgent group in a public statement. It also called for a “bilateral ceasefire.”

The group also asked the High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos to act in favor of cooperation and not as a “war councilor,” reminding him that six social leaders were killed in Colombia in the first days of 2019.

The statement comes after Ceballos asked the ELN if the dialogue would continue.

“We want to know if the ELN is willing to do what the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) did in their moment, to give up kidnapping and establish a unilateral ceasefire of criminal actions,” asked Ceballos on Thursday.

The ELN described Ceballos’ comments as a "smoke screen" to deflect attention and to accept the government’s responsibility in the conflict.

Peace talks between the government and the ELN have been stagnant since Duque assumed the presidency of Colombia in August 2018.

Duque is demanding a total ELN ceasefire before he returns to the negotiating table.

Not until that time, say Duque and Ceballos, will the president send a chief negotiator to Havana.

The ELN argues that the current government’s unilateral demands are in violation of the accord currently on the negotiating table. Still, it frequently calls for the resuming of peace talks at Havana.

Both parties began peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, during the administration of former President Juan Manuel Santos in 2017.

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