The ceasefire between the government of Colombia and the guerrilla group known as the National Liberation Army (ELN), which ended early this morning Tuesday, January 30, has been extended for one more week. With this, the peace delegations of the state and the armed group give themselves a deadline to agree on a ceasefire of longer duration, since there is still no agreement on the key elements for achieving this more stable truce.
With this announcement from the headquarters of the sixth round of peace talks in Havana, Cuba, the current ceasefire, which began in August 2023, is expected to be extended until February 5. The Colombian Minister of Defense, Ivan Velasquez, joined the table this weekend. The joint communiqué states that in the next days of the round of contacts in Cuba the “evaluation” of the ceasefire will continue and that at the end of the cycle, initially scheduled for February 6, the “extension will be signed”, which will “strengthen, develop and include” new aspects of the ceasefire.
Colombia and ELN Guerillas have not reached an agreement yet
“Taking into account that today, January 29, 2024, the CFBNT expires, continuity will be given until February 5, 2024 under the conditions of Agreement No. 10 of June 9, 2023 and the Protocols that have governed it until now”, informs the official note made public by the peace delegations.
This provisional extension of only 7 days shows that the negotiation continues in Cuba, and that the representatives of both sides of the table are still far from finalizing the points that separate them. Agreement on these issues would permit a longer extension, which is what the country was expecting and what the government itself had announced a few days ago.
The ELN guerrilla had denied the agreement through the voice of its top leader, alias Antonio Garcia. In fact, the communiqué issued yesterday, January 29, opens the door to a longer ceasefire, which will undoubtedly be the main point of negotiation in the remaining days of this cycle of dialogues on Cuban soil.
The ceasefire is a central point of the current peace talks. This was emphasized by the peace delegations at the end of the fifth round in Mexico last December. At that time, both the government and the illegal armed group showed their determination to achieve the long-term extension. However, discrepancies between the parties have not allowed, for now, the announcement of the final agreement that was desired.
The ELN asked for “guarantees” that the ceasefire would fulfill “its main function”, which in its view is to improve the living conditions and human rights of the civilian population in the areas affected by the conflict.
For its part, the Colombian government wanted to extend the terms and the set of prohibited violent actions included in the cessation of hostilities, in order to guarantee full compliance with the ceasefire, which has not happened in the last six months.
Thus, the cease-fire that ended today has achieved an important decrease in armed and criminal activity in the country, with implications for the ELN. However, the head of the government delegation, Vera Grave, hopes “to include what are called violent actions beyond kidnapping, those that affect the population”.
Grave wanted to highlight the agreement reached today, which is, she said, “the product of intense and daily work” of the peace delegations. The head of the Colombian delegation was optimistic and indicated that “we remain fully committed to making this a sustainable and successful peace process”.