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News > Latin America

Colombian Rebels Call for New Ceasefire, Renewed Peace Talks

  • ELN Chief Leader Pablo Beltran

    ELN Chief Leader Pablo Beltran | Photo: EFE

Published 30 January 2018

Both parties agreed to a ceasefire last October, which came to an end earlier this month.

Colombia's rebel group ELN called Tuesday for a new ceasefire and the resumption of frozen peace talks with the government as the prospect of open conflict flared anew following a string of deadly attacks.

Colombian Govt. Suspends ELN Peace Talks

The National Liberation Army (ELN) said it "hopes" the government will attend the peace negotiations that are planned for Wednesday in Ecuador's capital Quito.

The ELN is open "to a new and better bilateral ceasefire," the organization said in a statement read in Quito by its chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran.

President Juan Manuel Santos, on Monday, declared the suspension of the peace talks after three bomb attacks on police stations in Colombia killed seven officers and wounded dozens. He also ordered his security forces to act with "maximum determination" against the rebel group.

These developments threatened to reignite an armed conflict that had been on the path to a peaceful resolution, following a historic November 2016 peace deal with Colombia's biggest insurgent group — the FARC.

However, a similar deal with the smaller ELN — made up of an estimated 1,800 fighters — has remained out of reach.

The previous ceasefire with the ELN expired on January 10 without any breakthrough, leading the government to say it was suspending talks.

The National Liberation Army then returned to targeting security forces and oil pipelines, prompting Colombian military retaliation resulting in dozens of deaths and arrests.

The ELN claimed responsibility for one of the attacks, which killed five officers and wounded 41 in Barranquilla, on Saturday, as police were assembling for roll-call.

Tuesday's statement did not refer directly to the bombings, but said the rebels were "responding to the military offensive."

Santos' government began talks with the ELN a year ago in Ecuador after reaching the peace agreement with the FARC, which has now disarmed and transformed itself into a political party.

Right-wing candidates in Colombia's upcoming election have urged the government to break off talks with the ELN entirely.

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