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Colombia sees peace with ELN rebels harder than FARC

Colombia sees peace with ELN rebels harder than FARC
From Reuters - September 13, 2017

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Negotiating peace with Colombias largest active rebel group, the ELN, will be tougher than the recent successful talks with FARC guerrillas due to the ELNs diffuse chain of command and radical ideology, the chief government negotiator said.

President Juan Manuel Santos administration and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in February began negotiations in neighboring Ecuador that seek to end the role the group has played in a five-decade conflict that has left over 220,000 dead and millions displaced.

Even though both sides have agreed to begin a three-month bilateral ceasefire from October, the road to a definitive peace accord will be long and complex, Santos negotiator, Juan Camilo Restrepo, told Reuters late on Tuesday.

Its a highly radical, ideological group that totally lacks the pragmatism to negotiate that the FARC had, Restrepo, a 70-year-old former minister, said in the study of his Bogota apartment.

The Santos government signed a peace deal with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016 after negotiations in Havana, Cuba that lasted four years.

Restrepo, a former finance minister, said the ELNs fractured chains of command, plus its greater urban support, were further complications.

All those reasons indicate the negotiation with the ELN is more difficult, he said.

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