Colombia’s rebel groups honor ceasefire during presidential elections: NGO

(Photo: Confidencial Colombia)

A report released by one of Colombia’s leading think tanks concluded that the country’s two largest guerrilla groups had upheld a 10-day unilateral ceasefire against government forces during the country’s first round of presidential elections.

Colombia’s Peace and Reconciliation Foundation stated that although a total of three armed confrontations had taken place during the May 18 to May 28 ceasefire, none were in violation of the unilateral agreement made by the FARC and ELN rebel groups.

The ceasefire was announced by the guerrillas before the first round of presidential elections on May 25, which resulted in being the most peaceful election in recent Colombian history.

MORE: FARC, ELN announce unilateral ceasefires for Colombia presidential elections, call for govt reciprocation

According to the report released by the organization, the ceasefire was “100% successful” as two of the confrontations were at the initiative of Colombia’s government armed forces, with the other unable to be attributed to any rebel group by the authorities.

“In no part of the territory was there registered activity of action by the rebel groups,” the report read, adding that armed actions were allowed if conducted in defense only.

The elections, which failed to produce a clear winner, will now head to a run-off vote on June 15 between incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos and the Democratic Center Party’s Oscar Ivan Zuluaga — a fierce opponent of the ongoing peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government in Cuba.

MORE: Polls close without incident in Colombia’s most peaceful elections in decades

According to the report, of the three ceasefires that the FARC have announced since the start of the peace talks in 2012, the latest has produced the best results. The first was honored 85% and the second ceasefire was honored 95%, with most of the armed confrontations during the periods due to military offensives.

However, this is the first time that both the ELN and FARC rebel groups have committed to a ceasefire together.

There was a notable absence of attacks on oil infrastructure, which has been a consistent target of guerrilla attacks throughout 2014. The ELN rebel group, for example, has more than tripled their attacks on oil infrastructures since 2011.

The effectiveness of the ceasefire is reflective of a total decrease in armed incidents. Since the beginning of 2014 to May, armed confrontations between the rebels and the army have dropped more than 50% compared to the same period last year.


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