"I’m convinced that the bilateral ceasefire should be extended and hostilities should end” tweeted, the current Colombian presidential candidate, Piedad Cordoba on Wednesday. In a series of tweets posted to her account, Cordoba offered to broker the negotiations between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army or ELN.
“I offer my ability and experience wherever (the two sides) need me. Peace is irreversible,” she wrote. In a follow-up tweet, the former Colombian senator said, “Colombia demands peace. I call on the government and the ELN to listen to the people, decree a bilateral ceasefire and continue negotiations and dialogue.
“The government and the ELN should feel the clamour sweeping Colombia demanding peace...because peace isn’t for them, but for us, the average people of this country”, added the longtime civil rights and peace activist.
The Archbishop of Cali, Colombia also urged the ELN and the government to resume talks and come to a ceasefire accord. Monseñor Darío de Jesús Monsalve said in a statement: "In these circumstances... someone has to break the cycle and turn it into a cycle of peace. I call on the Government and its Ministry of Defense to put the pause for reflection before the aggression, before returning to the use of force on the ELN."
Monsalve stated his hope "that the parties [would] welcome a third party, which could well be the Church and the Holy See, or one of the countries that accompany the Quito Roundtable, to agree that a will be returned and maintained. cease [fire], giving opportunity and word to the new government team ".
FARC leaders and the United Nations have also been vocal in expressing their disappointment with Santos' decision to withdraw his chief negotiator, Gustavo Bell, from the fifth round of peace talks with ELN saying that the negotiations should continue.
The ceasefire talks broke down yesterday when president Manuel Santos called his lead negotiator back to Colombia after receiving word that members of the ELN allegedly attacked the state’s oil company, Colombian Petrol in the departments of Boyaca and Arauca.
“We always said were willing to extend the ceasefire with the ELN. Inexplicably they denied (the ceasefire) and committed an act of terrorism. I’ve told (government negotiator) Gustavo Bello to return immediately from Quito to evaluate the future of this process,” the Colombian president said in a tweet.
Later last night he tweeted “I reiterate what I said days ago: we won’t allow aggression against our Armed Forces. Whoever tries to obstruct its work will be (dealt with legally).”
“The incidents that happened earlier today in the east of the country occurred in a complex situation of conflict that Colombia has been going through,” said the ELN in a communique.
“Despite these incidents, the negotiations should not be detained in a bid to find a political exit for the conflict,” they added.
"We should do whatever it takes to explain to Colombians the supreme importance of this peace process for the good of national unity. This absolutely affects everyone” in the country, Cordoba added.
It’s unclear exactly as to why Santos called back off Bell, but some suspect it was part of a political move in the run-up to presidential elections this year.
The ceasefire agreement, known as the Bilateral, Temporary and National Ceasefire Agreement expired Jan. 9., 101 days after it was reached in September, also in Quito.
Just before this week’s talks Santos had said, “we’re more than ready to extend the ceasefire with the ELN and negotiate the conditions for a new ceasefire.”
ELN members have said they “aren’t giving up on peace," but have sharply criticized the government for not keeping up on its end of the deal to protect social leaders and activists in the rural regions that the Marxist guerrilla group had protected before its disarmament in September.