Ecuador ends mediation role between Colombian government and leftist rebel group
Colombia is looking for a new mediator in its peace negotiations with a rebel guerilla organization.
In an official statement, Ecuador said that it would no longer be a guarantor of peace talks between the government in Bogota and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a leftist rebel group, as long as ELN continues to carry out attacks.
“I have asked the foreign minister of Ecuador to stop talks, and our status as guarantor, while the ELN does not commit to leaving terrorist activities,” Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno told the media.
Moreno did not clarify which actions he was referring to, but the ELN have been responsible for a number of bombings and kidnappings during the course of peace talks with the Colombian government.
Ecuador’s announcement follows two recent incidents on the Colombia-Ecuador border.
In one incident, another rebel group kidnapped two Ecuadorian citizens, and in an earlier incident, two Ecuadorian journalists and their driver were killed.
“[Colombian] President Santos understands the reasons why President Moreno has decided to move away from his role as guarantor and host of these negotiations” Maria Angela Holguin, Colombia’s foreign minister, said during a televised address.
“Colombia’s government will immediately begin the necessary procedures to move the talks to one of the countries that was previously established as an alternative site.”
The other possible venues for negotiations are understood to be Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Norway and Venezuela.
On Wednesday, Alirio Sepulveda, the ELN representative, said the group would meet both the Colombian and Ecuadorian governments as well as other guarantors to seek a solution to the situation.
The bilateral negotiations resumed in Quito in last month, following a six-week pause which was marked by a number of deaths on both sides.
The ceasefire officially ended in January.
The talks have lasted 14 months between the Colombian government and the ELN.
The ELN was originally established in 1964 by Catholic priests to fight for land rights and the protection of poor rural communities.