Colombian president calls on ELN rebels to pursue peace

Colombian president invites ELN rebel group to join FARC in unilaerial ceasefire as peace talks progress

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Cuba's President Raul Castro encourages Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Commander the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC to engage in talks in Cuba

Updated Sep 29, 2015

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has said that the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) insurgents have decided to sign a peace deal within six months and issued a new statement on Sunday encouraging the country’s other remaining rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN) to follow suit.

The ELN obtains its primary income from drug trafficking and the two groups, the ELN and FARC, both say they represent the rural poor against Colombia’s wealthy classes, the privatisation of natural resources, multinational corporations and rightist violence.

The government has been engaged in exploratory talks with the ELN since January 2014 but a formal peace process has not started yet.

"We wish to invite the ELN to join this initiative of a unilateral ceasefire like the FARC has done and invite them to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the agenda points we have been discussing for some time," Santos said in a statement.

"The National Liberation Army (ELN) cannot remain the last guerilla group in the Americas, fighting against a country's goodwill and desire for peace," Santos said in the newspaper El Tiempo.

 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the top commander of FARC announced on Wednesday an important breakthrough in peace talks which aim to end Latin America's longest civil war which has been responsible for the deaths of 220,000 people and has uprooted six million.

"As I have said many times: Hopefully they will not let the train of peace pass by," Santos said, adding that the deal with FARC "should motivate them."

The ELN has about 2,500 fighters, a smaller number than the FARC's 7,000.

TRTWorld and agencies