The spokesperson for the Colombian government Wednesday announced the suspension of a recent ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Alfonso Prada, official spokesperson and minister of the interior, said the “legal effects” of the negotiated deal would be immediately nullified. The announcement came after the ELN denied that it had reached a deal with the national government.Prada reaffirmed Colombia’s commitment to renew talks with ELN. Additionally, he urged the organization to reduce violence in an effort to establish a lasting truce. In the statement, Prada specified the goals of the government to begin a “transition to the rule of law,” and “to build Total Peace.” Furthermore, he made clear that the suspension of the ceasefire with ELN will not affect deals made with other rebel groups.A press release from ELN accused the government of taking steps beyond negotiated terms. They claim a recently concluded round of talks in Venezuela laid out specific terms which have not been met by either side. However, the organization did affirm its commitment to peace talks once the specific terms are in place.Colombian President Gustavo Petro initially declared the ceasefire on December 31. Both sides were due to halt operations against each other on January 1. Numerous countries and the UN welcomed the announcement. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, said through a spokesperson that the deal “renewed hope for comprehensive peace.”Colombia has a long history of armed rebellions. President Petro is a former far-left rebel. He is also considered Colombia’s first far-left president. His election increased hopes of renewed negotiations and peace with armed rebels. Chief amongst these groups is ELN. The organization is the last officially armed rebel group in operation. ELN advocates a hybrid Christian and communist platform to combat political corruption and economic inequality.
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