Colombia’s last-standing rebel group, the ELN, announced on Monday that it will uphold a five-day ceasefire later this month to allow presidential elections.
The guerrilla organization, which has been at war with the state for over half a century, took to Twitter to declare the unilateral ceasefire to allow for a peaceful and non-violent process ahead of the first round of presidential elections on May 27.
“The ELN will cease military activities from 25 to 29 May to support favourable conditions that will allow the Colombian society to express themselves in the #ColombiaElections,” tweeted the rebel group.
“We hope that this spirit of conciliation of the ELN will be met with similar behavior on the part of the different political-military forces of the regime,” the organisation added through their website.
President Juan Manuel Santos said he hoped a “permanent” ceasefire would be set, and continue a peace process with the rebel faction that would bring an end to a war that’s been violently fought since 1964.
“Right now we are sitting with them (ELN rebels) negotiating an agreement. We are going to seek a ceasefire agreement, hopefully permanent. And at the same time, we are looking on how to advance in other points of the agenda that have already been agreed upon,” said the outgoing president from a summit in Madrid, Spain.
The ELN’s unilateral ceasefire announcement comes on the back of the fifth round of peace dialogues kicking off between the rebel group and the government on May 10 in Havana, Cuba.
Yet, this isn’t the first time the ELN has agreed to pause hostilities, issuing a unilateral ceasefire ahead of congressional elections earlier this year.
While in September last year, both the rebel group and the government agreed to a 100-day bilateral ceasefire during peace negotiations in previous guarantor country, Ecuador. However, the president suspended peace talks with the guerrillas after a wave of attacks followed the expiry of the ceasefire in January.