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The Colombian government has decided to suspend ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN), after the guerrilla group denied it was part of a bilateral ceasefire agreement announced by President Gustavo Petro on New Year’s Eve, a top official said.
“In view of the position taken yesterday (Tuesday) (by the ELN), advising that a ceasefire agreement should be taken up at the negotiating table, we have decided to suspend the December 31, 2022 decree and address it in the next round of talks,” Interior Minister Alfonso Prada said at a press conference late Wednesday.
The government’s initial ceasefire announcement followed an ELN request in December, after the group agreed to abide by a unilateral ceasefire from December 24 to January 2 for the holiday season, Prada said.
“We invite this organization to declare a verifiable truce in response to the imperative call of ethnic and peasant communities to maintain a bilateral ceasefire and non-violence in their territories,” he added.
Since taking office in 2022, Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president, has proposed a “Total Peace” policy involving the country’s various armed factions to put an end to over 50 years of fighting that has victimized millions of people.