HAVANA – Representatives from the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group established a technical committee in Havana on Friday that will develop a new bilateral ceasefire agreement.
“After progress is made in the development of a new ceasefire, we will inform Colombia’s Bishops Conference and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia,” the parties said in a joint statement.
Establishing a ceasefire is the main objective of the fifth round of peace talks between the government and the ELN, which were resumed last week in Cuba’s capital after Ecuador suspended its role as host and guarantor country.
The parties are hoping to agree to a ceasefire that will continue the 101-day cessation of hostilities that was established from October to January, and which has been the main breakthrough in the peace talks launched in February 2017 in Quito.
On Monday, the ELN announced a unilateral ceasefire from May 25-29 to facilitate Colombia’s May 27 presidential elections and called on government forces to cease operations against the rebel group during that period.
This is not the first time that the ELN guerrilla has declared an electoral truce.
Both the ELN and the now-disbanded FARC rebels declared a ceasefire during the 2014 presidential election.
The ELN also declared a cessation of hostilities from March 9-13 because of the legislative elections, in which the FARC participated as a newly-formed political party.
Havana previously hosted peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla, which lasted four years.
A peace accord was signed in November 2016, leading to the demobilization of FARC rebels and a transformation of the guerrilla group into a political party.
The ELN and the Colombian government have not said if the next rounds of the peace talks will continue to be held in Cuba, although the head of the ELN negotiating team, Pablo Beltran, told EFE this week that the rebel group “does not want to lose time with new relocations.”