World Bulletin / News Desk
The ELN guerrillas and a government delegation confirmed the formal commencement of peace talks between the two sides in a joint statement Monday from the Venezuelan presidential palace in Caracas.
“We have been trying to negotiate with the ELN guerrillas for three years,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in a televised address. “Now we can make progress with the ELN so that peace will be complete.”
The announcement comes just weeks after the government here signed a peace deal with the FARC to end 52 years of conflict.
Ecuador will be the first host country for the peace dialogues that will begin Oct. 27. It is believed that the responsibility may rotate between Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela in addition to Ecuador.
Six months ago, the agenda for the dialogues between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and government was made public in Caracas after three years of exploratory talks and there was the hope that talks could run parallel to those at the time with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana.
Negotiations with the ELN were frozen, however, after the Colombian government demanded the release of all hostages being held by the guerrilla group as a precondition for talks. It is a condition the rebel group has agreed to this time around.
While there was no progress, the ELN’s decision to declare a cease-fire during a referendum on the FARC’s peace agreement – which the government lost days ago by a narrow margin of just 60,000 votes – was well-received by members of the government.
Guarantor nations for the peace dialogues with the ELN will be Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Norway and Venezuela and, there is a six-point agenda that has been agreed upon by both sides that includes participation of Colombian society in the talks; democracy for peace; victims of the conflict; transformations necessary for peace; security for peace and ending the conflict and guarantees of political participation.
“I express my happiness for this announcement of the public phase of negotiations between the government and the ELN for a complete, stable and lasting peace,” Sen. Ivan Cepeda said via Twitter.
The ELN is Colombia’s second guerrilla group by size, behind the FARC and has approximately 2,500 combatants. The group follows a Marxist-Leninist doctrine and took up arms against the Colombian state in 1964. Most recently, their attacks have targeted infrastructure and oil pipelines, severely affecting Colombia’s economy.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Ekim 2016, 08:28