Colombia’s ELN announce new ceasefire during legislative election

BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombia’s ELN rebels, whose peace talks with the government have been suspended since the end of January, announced on Monday a temporary ceasefire during next month’s legislative elections.

“The National Liberation Army (ELN) will carry out a cessation of offensive military operations, between March 9 and 13,” the rebel group said in a statement dated February 25, but released on Monday. The vote takes place on March 11.

The group also urged the government of President Juan Manuel Santos to return to negotiations, which he suspended last month after attacks blamed on the guerillas left eight police dead and dozens wounded.

“The goal must continue to be developed with rigor and speed … to seek an agreement that overcomes the armed confrontation and to agree on transformations in search of a peaceful and equitable Colombia,” it added.

The ELN began peace talks with President Juan Manuel Santos’s government a year ago in the Ecuadoran capital Quito.

Santos, who will leave power in August after two four-year terms, is looking to reach a deal with the ELN similar to that agreed with FARC rebels, who have since disarmed and transformed into a political party.

Both parties have expressed willingness to hold a new ceasefire and resume talks, but the government delegation remains in Colombia.

“We propose to President Santos to set a date for the start of the fifth cycle of talks and send his delegation to Quito,” the ELN said in the text.

The FARC, meanwhile, is set to participate in the March election as well as presidential elections in May, in which Colombians will chose Santos’ successor.

The peace deal that ended the five decades-long conflict guaranteed 10 seats for the FARC in Colombia’s congress.

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