Colombian gov’t, ELN rebels prepare for peace talks in Ecuador

World Today

Colombian gov't, ELN rebels prepare for peace talks in Ecuador

Colombian officials are ready to begin formal peace talks with National Liberation Army rebels, with both parties gathering in Ecuador to start discussions.

It’s been a long road to this point, but both sides are optimistic following the successful outcome of government talks with the FARC.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Colombian gov't, ELN rebels prepare for peace talks in Ecuador

Colombian gov't, ELN rebels prepare for peace talks in Ecuador

Colombian officials are ready to begin formal peace talks with National Liberation Army rebels, with both parties gathering in Ecuador to start discussions. It’s been a long road to this point, but both sides are optimistic following the successful outcome of government talks with the FARC. CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army or ELN, freed two hostages this past week. They were the last two held by the group – and their release cleared a government requirement — so formal peace talks could begin.

Monday’s release of the soldier, Fredy Moreno, came days after the release of 62-year old former Congressman, Odin Sanchez. He had been held for 10 months.

The ELN demanded that in exchange, two of their rebels be released from jail. The government released them on Saturday as they are expected to be part of the negotiating team.

Now comes the real challenge, negotiating an end to five decades of war.

The talks follow the successful but protracted negotiations with the FARC rebel group. Those took place in Havana, Cuba and spanned four years.

It’s been a bumpy road for the government and ELN to get off to a start in Quito, Ecuador. The talks were announced and then canceled numerous times over the past year. Colombians wonder how long these negotiations will take, and whether they will be affected by Colombia’s upcoming presidential elections.

Skepticism at the start of negotiations wasn’t new. When peace talks began with FARC in November of 2012, only 54 percent of Colombians were optimistic about the result.