The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas rejected claims by the Colombian president that they had signed a ceasefire agreement with the government.
President Gustavo Petro announced over the weekend a six-month ceasefire with the five largest armed groups in the country, including the ANO, which held peace talks with the government.
“The ELN dialogue delegation did not discuss a bilateral ceasefire with the government of Gustavo Petro. Therefore, no such agreement exists,” the militants said in a statement.
President Petro, the first left-wing president in Colombian history to say he wants “complete peace” in the country, announced the truce on Twitter on New Year’s Eve.
“We have agreed to a bilateral ceasefire with ELN, Second Marketalia, Central General Headquarters, AGC and the Sierra Nevada Self-Defense Force from January 1 to June 30, 2023,” Petro tweeted.
The ceasefire was declared “with the possibility of extension depending on progress in the negotiations.”
Despite a peace pact that disarmed FARC militants in 2017, armed groups are still embroiled in deadly disputes over the proceeds of drug trafficking and other illegal operations, according to the independent think tank Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz).
Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine
The government, in a statement on Sunday, said the ceasefire would be monitored by the United Nations, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman and the Catholic Church.