Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, said they have dropped their demand to hold a bilateral truce with the Colombian government before formalizing peace talks announced more than a year ago.
In a letter sent to the National Meeting for Peace, the rebel group reiterated its desire to formalize exploratory talks with the Colombian government, but with what the rebels consider the necessary guarantees and conditions from the government.
In regards to their demand to first declare a ceasefire before the beginning of talks, the ELN leadership said that “we accept this government requisite.”
However, the rebels said that for successful peace talks to be held, broad public participation is necessary.
“We call to convene all of society” to “fully participate in the peace process,” said the ELN leadership.
“We consider that for the achieving of a genuine and irreversible peace it indispensable that the whole of society and especially the excluded majority will be the main actor and architects” of a peace accord to en the group’s violent insurgency.
The exploratory peace talks that were announced in June last year would put a negotiated end to 50 years of conflict with the guerrilla group, however little movement has been seen since their announcement five days before President Juan Manuel Santos was re-elected into office.
The ELN (National Liberation Army), originally formed in 1964 as a Marxist-Leninist/Liberation Theology movement.
Today the 2,500 fighters under the leadership of Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias “Gabino” have a particularly strong presence in northeastern Colombia where they were originally founded.