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ELN peace talks: warring parties want to extend ceasefire

Gustavo Bell is a conservative former Vice President and Defense Minister.

Both Colombia’s last-standing rebel group ELN and the government’s incoming chief negotiator want to extend a bilateral ceasefire that was expiring in January.

The parties responded positively to a call by the United Nations to extend the first bilateral ceasefire since the formation of the guerrilla group in 1964.

The ceasefire has been marred by violations and violent incidents, particularly in regions where the ELN is also facing rival illegal armed groups or where coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, is rife.

UN secretary general urges to extend troubled ELN ceasefire

Former Vice-President Gustavo Bell (Conservative Party) was appointed chief peace negotiator on Sunday and said he preferred an “imperfect ceasefire” over none at all.

Any sensible person would prefer an imperfect ceasefire.

Government negotiator Gustavo Bell

The talks are marred by a mutual distrust and violent intervention from illegal armed groups and have progressed slowly.

The bilateral ceasefire, however, has strongly alleviated the humanitarian situation in most of the regions affected by the conflict between the ELN and the state.

The warring parties are currently talking to community and social organizations for input on an eventual peace deal.

According to Bell, the ending of the presidential term of President Juan Manuel Santos in August next year could help accelerate the talks.

Of course, the desire and dream is to have it signed before the end of this administration.

Government negotiator Gustavo Bell

The ELN said that the appointment of Bell as negotiator was a “positive” development.

The talks that formally began in February seek to end the guerrillas’ 53-year war against the state that began at the height of the Cold War.

If the guerrillas decide to join the peace process with the FARC, they would be the last illegal armed actor to leave the battlefield.

Other active illegal armed groups were mainly formed in the 1990s, after drug trafficking had become a major factor.

Colombia’s armed conflict has left more than 265,000 dead and millions displaced. More than 15% of the country’s population is a registered war victims.

ELN peace talks: warring parties want to extend ceasefire was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by
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