In the aftermath of the deadly bomb attack that killed 21 people in Bogota, the leadership of Colombia’s ELN rebels has slammed President Ivan Duque’s decision to end peace talks.

Since taking office last year, Duque has refused to continue the dialogues established by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN claims that ongoing attacks against the organization forced the guerrillas’ hand.

ELN justifies Bogota terrorist attack

“They cannot ask us to fold our arms if they attack us,” said chief negotiator Pablo Beltran to the AFP News Agency, referring to alleged government attacks during a ceasefire.

We waited six months. We released soldiers and police. At the end of the year we declared a unilateral ceasefire and during that truce we were attacked and bombed and, at the end of the truce, there were combats and attacks, and within those military events, the one you are telling me occurred… I hope the talks can be made in the midst of a bilateral cessation to build trust.

ELN negotiator Pablo Beltran

The ELN has repeatedly asked Duque, who ended the talks on Friday, to resume the talks under the same conditions as Santos agreed. Duque has consistently rejected this and has changed the conditions on a number of occasions.

Beltran said there is still room to resume negotiations despite the terrorist attack in Bogota.

Terrible things happen every day in Colombia. The agenda of the talks says that objective one is to put an end to the internal armed conflict. That goal must be maintained.

ELN negotiator Pablo Beltran

While Duque did not end the talks formally, he asked Cuba, the latest host country for the talks, to arrest and extradite the 10 rebel leaders on the island paying little attention to international protocol.

The triggering of an official end to the negotiations would allow the ELN leadership a two-week grace period to be reunited with their troops on the ground under the protocols established within the framework of the negotiations.

If peace talks end, Colombia has two weeks to allow ELN leaders to reunite with troops

Beltran slammed Duque for his refusal to acknowledge these protocols, claiming that they were agreed upon by the previous head of state.

“Duque has said that this protocol was signed by a different government and that it can not be respected after the attack,” the rebel leader said.

For peace to work it must be a state policy. What a government does must have continuity with the other. We signed [a deal] with the State and we demand that that State comply with this protocol.

ELN negotiator Pablo Beltran

The veteran leader highlighted that Duque’s failure to recognize the protocols established by the Santos administration would thus make the agreements signed with the demobilized FARC group invalid also.

“With this criterion that what Santos signed is not valid for Duque, where will be the agreements signed with the FARC,” said Beltran.

“We have to persist in the dialogue. In Colombia there are answers that do not depend on this delegation. Nobody can ask us that if they attack us we will tie our arms behind our backs. I hope that the atmosphere will be relaxed and that the talks will be resumed,” concluded Beltran.

The post ELN insists on resumption of peace talks in Colombia appeared first on Colombia News | Colombia Reports.


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