Colombia's government has announced a cease-fire with the five main illegal armed groups operating in the country in a bid to support peace talks.
The groups include the leftist guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN), along with dissident groups run by former members of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Segunda Marquetalia and Estado Mayor Central.
President Gustavo Petro announced the six-month cease-fire Saturday on New Year's Eve.
What has Colombia's Petro said?
"We have agreed to a bilateral cease-fire 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, extendable depending on progress in the negotiations," Petro said on Twitter.
The leftist leader and former guerrilla called the move a "bold act."
"The bilateral cease-fire obliges the armed organizations and the state to respect it. There will be a national and international verification mechanism," he added.
Petro has vowed to end Colombia's internal conflict, which has been going on for nearly six decades and has seen at least 450,000 people die.
What do we know about the armed groups?
According to the independent think-tank, Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), the armed groups still functioning in Colombia — the largest cocaine producer in the world — are locked in deadly tussles over drug trafficking revenues and other illegal businesses.
Earlier this month, the ELN — the last recognized insurgency in the Andean country — announced a nine-day unilateral cease-fire over Christmas and completed the first round of peace talks between the two parties in Venezuela's Caracas.
The Segunda Marquetalia and Estado Mayor Central groups have also held separate talks with the government.
dvv/ar (AFP, Reuters)