NGO Calls ELN Guerrilla to End Kidnapping and Define Peace Agenda

By Dialogo
June 16, 2009

BOGOTA, June 14, 2009 (AFP) – An NGO that promotes peaceful ending of the Colombian conflict has asked ELN guerrilla to end kidnappings and to define an agenda to reintroduce the dialogue with the government, according to a letter revealed this Sunday. The message of ‘Colombianos por la Paz' (Colombians for Peace) is the response to a letter sent by the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist) –second guerrilla organization in the country- in May, accepting a letter exchange aimed at a reconciliation process. "We reiterate the call for them to expressly manifest their willingness to cease, unilaterally and immediately (the kidnapping) that practice which violates International Humanitarian Rights,” stated the NGO. The association, led by opponent senator Piedad Córdoba, added that “kidnapping should not be a subject of conversation in dialogue meetings and peace negotiations, but a decisive and unilateral commitment” on the part of the insurgents in “terms of stopping this practice of exerting economic and political pressure.” Likewise, she requested the rebels to formulate “the agenda they are willing to follow to return to negotiating a political solution.” Between 2005 and 2007, President Alvaro Uribe’s government and the ELN held several meetings in Cuba, aimed at starting a negotiation, but the dialoque was suspended when the parties failed to reach consensus regarding the terms of a “basic agreement.” On a communiqué issued in May, the guerrilla organization assured that the main “obstacle” to continue the dialogue is the government’s “claim” that the ELN can only be located in specific areas and has to identify all of its members, as conditions to move forwards in negotiations. “Colombianos por la Paz” consists of dozens of important figures that pursue a pacific solution to the conflict, and in February it achieved the liberation of four officers and two politicians, all hostages of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Marxist).
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