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Colombia Postpones Peace Talks With EMC Guerrillas

Colombia’s government and guerrilla group EMC postponed formal peace talks and a ceasefire that were supposed to begin on Sunday.

Instead, the government of President Gustavo Petro and guerrilla leaders announced an immediate suspension of attacks “as a mechanism to protect the civilian population and diminish the effects of confrontation.”

The ceasefire that would allow formal peace talks will take effect next weekend, the negotiators said in a joint statement in the town of Tibu, where the talks were supposed to kick off.

The decision was met with frustration by locals who were attending the ceremony that had been organized to formally kick off peace talks.

The delay was due to a decision by the government and the security forces to continue a military offensive in the southwestern Cauca province.

In this region, the army and guerrillas have been fighting over control over the Micay valley, which is controlled by the EMC’s regional units.

Petro and EMC commander “Ivan Mordisco” announced their intentions to negotiate peace shortly after the president took office in August last year.

The security forces and the guerrillas announced a six-month ceasefire to facilitate preliminary negotiation in January.

The president suspended the ceasefire in southern Colombia in May in response to a massacre committed by EMC fighters in the Putumayo province.

In September, negotiators said that a new ceasefire would take force on Sunday to facilitate formal peace talks on the same day.

This has been frustrated by persistent fighting between EMC and the security forces, particularly in the war-torn southwest of Colombia.

Turf wars between EMC and other illegal armed groups additionally complicated measures that would meaningfully reduce violence in rebel-controlled territories.

These turf wars broke out during a peace process that was agreed with the FARC in 2016.

The government has been engaged in preliminary talks with Colombia’s most prominent illegal armed groups in an attempt to secure what the president has called “total peace.”

Source : Colombia Reports