The National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group has denied claims by Colombian President Gustavo Petro that they signed a ceasefire with the government.
On New Year’s Eve, Petro announced that the Colombian government had signed a six month ceasefire agreement with the country’s five largest armed groups, saying “Total peace will be a reality.” The groups claimed to be involved included the ELN, Second Marquetalia, Central General Staff, Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, and Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada.
Hemos acordado un cese bilateral con el ELN, la Segunda Marquetalia, el Estado Mayor Central, las AGC y las Autodefensas de la Sierra Nevada desde el 1 de enero hasta el 30 de junio de 2023, prorrogable según los avances en las negociaciones.
La paz total será una realidad.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) January 1, 2023
Peace talks between the Colombian government and ELN faltered in 2019 following a car bombing that targeted the National Police Academy in Bogota, which killed 21 and wounded dozens of others. The ELN claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to ceasefire violations by Colombian forces. Following the bombing, then President Iván Duque Márquez suspended talks. Since then, other ceasefires have been implemented, like in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and just last week due to the holidays.
So far, no other groups have come out to say that they are not involved in the ceasefire. The ELN released a statement that read “The ELN Dialogue Delegation has not discussed any bilateral ceasefire with the Gustavo Petro government, therefore no such agreement exists.” This brings into question whether or not any of the groups were involved in the ceasefire dialogue.