Colombia’s government and ELN rebels sign first of six peace deals

Negotiators of Colombia’s government and ELN guerrillas successfully ended talks on the first of six points on the peace talks agenda.

At a press conference in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, the lead negotiators announced that they had concluded negotiations on citizen participation in talks and an eventual peace process.

The partial agreement is a major advance for the talks that were initiated by the ELN and former President Juan Manuel Santos in 2017.

In June of last year, the two negotiation teams agreed on the creation of the National Participation Committee (CNP), which has been seeking input in the ongoing talks from citizens.

How citizens will participate in Colombia’s peace talks

According to the citizen participation deal, the CNP has organized almost 80 meetings that counted on the participation of more than 8,500 representatives of social organizations and communities.

From this first phase, and the multiple voices that participated in it, the following axes of dialogue were developed:

    • Political regime for the construction of a society in which there is room for all options and opinions
    • Economic model that overcomes inequalities
    • Environmental policy that discusses all relations with nature, the regions and its peoples
    • Education and culture as a societal project that is nourished and strengthened from it social differences

The first partial accord comes after months of tensions between the government and the ELN caused by dissidents within the guerrilla organization.

The negotiations were frozen for months because the government agreed to hold parallel negotiations with the ELN’s dissident Comuneros del Sur division from the Nariño province.

The talks were able to continue after the ELN’s central command agreed to allow the Nariño guerrillas to negotiate with the government as an independent guerrilla group.

The CNP will continue seeking input from social organizations as the negotiation teams proceed to discuss the remaining points on the agenda, which would include a deal to demobilize the ELN more than six decades after taking up arms.

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