Colombia agrees ceasefire with five largest armed groups

© Daniel Munoz, AFP

Colombia's government has agreed to a six-month ceasefire with the five largest armed groups still active despite a 2016 peace pact that has not seen an end to violence in the conflict-riddled country.

President Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first-ever leftist president, who has said he wants "total peace" in the country, announced the truce on Twitter.

"We have agreed to a bilateral ceasefire with the ELN, the Second Marquetalia, the Central General Staff, the AGC and the Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada from January 1 to June 30, 2023," Petro tweeted on New Year's Eve.

The ceasefire was declared "extendable depending on progress in the negotiations."

Despite the peace pact that saw FARC guerrillas disarm in 2017, armed groups remain locked in deadly disputes over drug trafficking revenues and other illegal businesses, according to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), an independent think tank.

Colombia is the world's largest cocaine producer.

The government, in a statement Sunday, said the ceasefire would be monitored by the United Nations, Colombia's human rights ombudsman and the Catholic Church.

Peace talks had been suspended under the government of Ivan Duque (2018-2022), but Petro resumed negotiations soon after taking office on August 7.


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