Rebel group ELN on Monday criticized the Colombian government, claiming the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos stalled making ongoing peace talks public and unilaterally altered a joint-communique on the talks.
The peace talks were announced by the president on June 10, exactly five days before elections were held in which Santos faced strong opposition of hard-liner Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.
The move led to strong criticism from Santos’ opposition, who claimed the announcement was timed to be made just before the second round run-0ff to strengthen Santos’ reelection bid.
In its first press release since the government announcement of the talks Tuesday last week, the rebels said that an “Act of Accords” and a joint communique were agreed on on Saturday, June 7, three days before the government made the talks public.
However, said the ELN, “since the beginning we have opposed the secrecy, rhythm and informality of the talks, consequently President Santos needs to respond to the question, ‘Why were they made public only now?'”
The rebel leadership additionally accused the government of having altered the end of the joint press release, unilaterally adding a call to Colombians to “construct a country in peace and equality.”
In spite the leadership’s claims it was unaware of the adaptation, the communique that appeared on the ELN website on Monday is the same as that published on the president’s website.
The ELN, like the much bigger FARC rebel group, has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964. The talks with the Marxist group have been widely expected for months as similar negotiations with the FARC progressed.