World Bulletin / News Desk
Representatives of the ELN rebel group announced Tuesday that a ceasefire with the government will end at midnight.
“Today, Tuesday at 2400 hours, the ceasefire which has lasted for 101 days will come to an end,” Pablo Beltran, the commander-in-chief of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, said from Quito, Ecuador, where the two sides have been involved in peace talks.
Beltran told reporters there is an “agreement” with the Colombian government to negotiate another ceasefire. As of yet, no date for a further suspension of military activities has been announced.
“We hope that there’s calm,” he said, and “no fatigue” while a new truce is reached.
The ceasefire has been in place since Oct. 1, during which both sides have levied accusations of violations.
While the ELN admitted to the assassination of an indigenous governor in 2017, it in turn holds the government responsible for the deaths of seven coca farmers.
But during the agreed three months of the ceasefire, there were no reports of direct confrontations between the Colombian armed forces and the ELN -- unprecedented in the five decades of conflict.
“We have reached an important stage which is that we must continue our dialogue in the middle of a bilateral ceasefire,” said Beltran. “We are going to try and ensure that this continues, and we hope that there is no escalation in attacks.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Twitter expressed his desire the ceasefire continues.
“We are more than willing to prolong the ceasefire with the ELN and renegotiate conditions for a new ceasefire,” he wrote.
After reaching a peace deal with FARC guerrillas in November 2016 that ended more than 50 years of conflict between the two sides, Santos is hoping to end the last conflict on the continent that has resulted in more than 8 million victims before his presidency ends later this year.
Colombia holds presidential elections in May.
Leftist Senator of the Polo party Ivan Cepeda published an open letter Tuesday to all 12 presidential candidates that urged them to support an extension of the ceasefire.
“In virtue of the spirit of reconciliation, I am asking you, as presidential hopefuls, to support a prolongation of the current ceasefire and a negotiation for a new bilateral agreement, which will permit a continuation of humanitarian relief for all communities, create an ambiance of calm for the electoral campaign and permit negotiations towards a final peace agreement,” he wrote.
The ELN has been in conflict with the Colombian government since 1964 and numbers less than 2,000 combatants.
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