Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday that his government and the ELN, Colombia’s National Liberation Army, are discussing the possibility of negotiating a new bilateral ceasefire.
“We are right now discussing with the ELN the possibility to negotiate a new ceasefire,” he told the press. “The Colombian Government is interested in reaching an agreement soon, in order to have a new ceasefire and continue with the discussion of the rest of the agenda that will lead us to comprehensive peace.”
He added that building peace in the country is an irreversible process, whatever the outcome of this year’s election may be.
However, just this week, five ELN guerrillas were killed during a clash with military forces in the rural department of Antioquia Wednesday. At least four of ELN members were arrested during the confrontation.
Since the evacuation of Colombia guerrilla groups such as the FARC and the ELN, in the wake of the Peace Agreements, illegal paramilitary groups have surged in rural communities around the country, carrying out violence against the populations there.
The peace talks between Colombia's government and the ELN began late last year in Quito, Ecuador. The ceasefire was considered a success, but talks were suspended when the ELN attacked the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline shortly after the ceasefire expired on Jan. 9.