After Clearing Hurdles Government and ELN Restart Talks, But Time is of the Essence (S)
EXCERPTS OF A COLUMN BY Alfredo Molano Jimeno in Espectador 1/12/2016 — The delegates of President Santos and ELN, the second largest guerrilla organization in Colombia, will work all week in search of the formula to initiate a round of peace discussions in Quito. Negotiators for both parties resume talks with a clear objetive: Agree on acceptable conditions from each side to finally start negotiating the already defined agenda.
Last October, ELN had pledged to release two hostages, while the government promised to pardon two imprisoned guerrillas, and appoint two more as peacekeepers. The guerrillas then released three people in Arauca, but kept Odín Sánchez, ex-representative to the Chocoano legislature. On November 30, 2016, the chief negotiator of the Government, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said that ELN requested to suspend discussions until the first days of January 2017.
The parties wanted to separately search for a formula that would solve the impasse. And on the eve of the deadline some proposals were put forward by citizens. A group of 101 intellectuals sent an open letter proposing that the ELN release Sánchez, stop kidnappings, and in return the government name four peacekeepers to join the guerrilla negotiating delegation. This is how all parties will be arriving in Ecuador. And this time everything indicates that the time has ran out for discussing approaches and negotiator will have a week to define whether or not to embark in search of the promised comprehensive.