Formal peace negotiations begin between the ELN and Colombian government

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 10 February 2017

After more than 3 years of preliminary negotiations, Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group the ELN (National Liberation Army) and the Colombian government began formal peace talks near the Ecuadorian capital of Quito on Tuesday 7 February.

The talks will cover six major points already agreed upon in preliminary negotiations: the participation of civil society in the peacebuilding process; democracy for peace; transformation for peace; the rights of victims; ending the conflict; and implementation of the agreements. The first round of negotiations will deal with what steps need to be taken to reach a bilateral ceasefire and how to involve civil society in the process.

The talks were meant to begin on 27 October 2016 but President Juan Manuel Santos cancelled the meeting saying that the government would not start the peace process until ex-congressman, Odin Sanchez, was freed by the guerrilla group. On 2 February Sanchez was released and 2 imprisoned guerrillas were pardoned.

The ELN has been active since 1964 and has an estimated 1,500 fighters and is present in 10 of Colombia's departments (about a third of its territory).

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