Split Among Colombia Guerrillas Strikes Blow To Peace Talks

Split among Colombia guerrillas strikes blow to peace talks

Bogotá, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2024) A top rebel commander has pulled out of Colombia's peace negotiations amid a split in one of the most powerful guerrilla groups in the country, the government said Tuesday.

The divisions within the EMC -- which broke away from the FARC when it signed a 2016 peace deal -- are the latest obstacle to President Gustavo Petro's efforts to negotiate with the country's remaining armed groups.

The guerrilla leader known by the alias Ivan Mordisco "is off the table.... We do not know where he is," the head of the government delegation in the talks, Camilo Gonzalez, said in a statement.

Talks with the Central General Staff (EMC) have been plagued by multiple setbacks since they got underway in October 2023.

In March, the government suspended a ceasefire with the EMC in three departments in the southwest of the country after the group violated the truce on multiple occasions, leading to an increase in fighting in the region.

The government has also accused the EMC of using the ceasefire to expand its territory and increase recruitment efforts.

Last week, an EMC negotiator and commander, Andrey Avendano, told local media the group was facing "a big division" over differing views on "the political moment in the country."

"There is no large-scale confrontation or difficulty, but some observations have been made," he said.

The government said it would continue dialogue with Avendano, who represents 50 percent of EMC's fighters.

The guerrilla group counts among 3,500 members and is mainly financed through narcotrafficking, according to military intelligence statements.

Since his election in 2022, leftist Petro has sought to put an end to six decades of conflict between the country's security forces, guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.