WORLD

Colombia’s ELN sets cease-fire demands

COLOMBIA’S ELN SETS CEASE-FIRE DEMANDS
Colombia's holdout guerrilla group on Monday detailed a five-point agenda it says is required for a bilateral cease-fire with the government.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) that is currently engaged in peace dialogues with the Colombian government in Quito, Ecuador, said in a statement it hopes Colombia "makes a serious commitment to suspending actions which affect the population."

The demands, made after the two sides finalized a second round of negotiations Friday, include "taking measures to combat those members of the armed forces and the authorities which are aligned with paramilitary groups, preventing aggressions against popular social movements, suspending actions leading to the confinement and displacement of the population, and others which block and control the transportation of food provisions and goods necessary for the work and survival of communities".

Additionally, the ELN wants "all court cases against social leaders and leaders of social moments and protests", be lifted.

"We have begun discussions around a cease-fire, which, in addition to halting armed attacks between the two sides, requires that humanitarian aid be delivered to communities," chief ELN negotiator Pablo Beltran told reporters.

There is hope a cease-fire could be reached before a visit by Pope Francis in September and potentially bring an end to more than five decades of war.
But some question the usefulness of the ELN's demands that critics say may hold up negotiations.

"Knowing that there is so little time, because if they want to agree a ceasefire for the arrival of the pope, we are only three months away from his visit and a great deal of agility is required to work on a bilateral cease-fire and cessation of hostilities," Leon Valencia, director of the Peace and Reconciliation foundation told a local radio station.
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