Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has welcomed the National Liberation Army's (ELN) decision to embark on a unilateral three-day ceasefire to respect the legislative elections process, which will take place on March 11th.
The ceasefire will last from March 9 to the 13 to “respect those who vote,” a press release issued by the ELN said. The ceasefire shouldn't, however, be seen as a show of support for the "corrupted electoral process" the release added.
During an interview, Santos said the ELN's decision “was the kind of gesture we were asking from them in order to resume the dialogues. I've said, from the moment the ceasefire was ended on January 9 this year, that the ELN should be coherent.”
The president also said that “re-establishing the dialogue will be a difficult task” without a little “coherence” from the insurgent group.
President of the Peace Commission at the Senate Roy Barreras said that reaching a definitive agreement with the ELN is a necessary requisite for peace.
“The party leaders are asking the ELN for a clear gesture not towards the government, but towards Colombia,” said Barreras. He added: “the unilateral ceasefire is a mechanism to recover the Colombian people's trust in the possibility of a negotiated peace and the reestablishment of the dialogues in Quito.”
The peace talks in Quito were called off by Santos after the ELN allegedly attacked a pipeline a day after the last ceasefire ended.
Pablo Beltran, the chief peace negotiator from the ELN, has been urging the Colombian government to resume the talks.
Just a few hours after Santos welcomed ELN's ceasefire gesture, an explosive device killed five Colombian soldiers and left more than ten injured in Northern Santander.
The army condemned the action and blamed the ELN for the attack.