In a press statement, ELN leader “Gabino” said his group is willing to take part in the peace talks.
“Our command has clearly expressed that the ELN is willing to begin a dialogue with the current government, in a serious, responsible, respectful process without traps and without hostility that facilitates the reestablishment of trust and generates a favorable environment to tackle the causes of the armed conflict,” the ELN’s leader said.
According to Gabino, his group’s intention is to create a “real, stable and lasting peace.”
A peace deal, said the rebel leader, “must open processes of social justice, real and participative democracy, national dignity and sovereignty” and “seek solutions for the deferred problems of the country.”
What the rebel group said to not want is “exchange demobilization and arms for allowences, the access to grants, taxi licenses or the sharing of state bureaucracy,” seemingly referring to the highly criticized demobilization of paramilitary organization AUC between 2003 and 2006.
Finally, the group called on “the government and the class it represents” to express whether “they are willing to overcome the half a century of volence, leaving aside the warmongers that want to prolongue the war that brings them great economic and power benefits.”
The ELN’s statement followed an President Juan Manuel Santos’ announcement that his administration has begun preliminary talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, about reaching a negotiated end to the country’s 48-year old armed conflict. The President invited the ELN to join these talks.