Ecuador hosts peace talks between Colombia, ELN rebels

Ecuador says it hosts peace talks between Colombian government and ELN rebels that aim to terminate decades old guerilla warfare

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Ecuador announced on Wednesday that it hosted preliminary peace negotiations of neighbouring Colombia with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels who have been carrying out a guerrilla war against Bogota for almost 50 years.  

President of Ecuador Rafael Correa did not state where and when the peace talks have begun between the parties but expressed his country's support for the peace-building efforts that promise to end a warfare of half century.

"President [Juan Manuel] Santos asked us, discreetly, confidentially, if we could help with facilities for discussions with the ELN and this was done," Correa told reporters in a press release in Quito.

"If they need Ecuador to make this space available again for these talks, obviously we are at Colombia's disposal," the Ecuadorian president added.

The Colombian government is also negotiating peace with the country’s largest rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), since the past two years.

Both revolutionary guerrilla groups, FARC and ELN, have been maintaining an armed struggle within the Colombia since the early 1960s in order to establish a communist governance in Bogota.

The 50 years of struggle between Colombian army and the leftist guerrilla groups caused the death of at least 220,000 people as well as dislocations of hundreds of thousands inside Colombia.

Top-ranking officers from both guerrilla groups have convened recently in order to converge their peace process with the Colombian government in Cuba.

Since the peace talks have been commenced, the FARC rebels have also been trying to convince the ELN rebels who were hesitant and mulling over whether to enter into the negotiations.

FARC commander in chief Rodrigo Londono, who is better known as "Timochenko," was said to have met with his ELN counterpart Nicolas Rodriguez, or "Gabino," in Havana in late April in order to convince him to agree to full-fledged peace negotiations, according to Colombian government sources.

"Detailed explanation to the ELN of the advances in Havana is intended to bring about a complete end to armed conflict," Humberto de la Calle, the government's chief negotiator with the FARC said.

Colombia’s both revolutionary groups have been weakened since a US-backed military onslaught made by Colombian army in 2000.

The estimated numbers of the FARC rebels in Colombia is about 8,000 while ELN has much fewer than those numbers.

Colombian President Santos had announced last year that the peace talks with the ELN will be parallel to that of the FARC during which the parties would negotiate political reform, redistribution of lands, ending the drugs trafficking and reparations for the families of victims of the long-lasting conflicts.

The Colombian president also subjected the peace talks to a nationwide referendum when they completely finished with both rebel groups.


TRTWorld and agencies