Flag of ColombiaInternationalIndiaAfricaMEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — The government of Colombia on Wednesday issued a decree for a temporary ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group, which will be in effect from August to January, according to the text of the decree. «To introduce a temporary bilateral ceasefire at the national level between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group from 00:00 on August 3, 2023, until 24:00 on January 29, 2024. It may be extended after a prior evaluation at the table of peace negotiations of the reports on the monitoring and verification mechanism,» the text of the decree, published by Vicky Davila, the director of Colombian news magazine Semana, read. Earlier in the day, the ELN announced a complete cessation of offensive and reconnaissance activities from July 6 to August 3, a period that is preparatory before the 180-day truce with the government agreed upon in June. The rebel group, however, will maintain control and surveillance in regions of presence «to respond to threats or attacks by any armed group or state structure against our units or the civilian population.» The 180-day ceasefire was reached by the government of Colombia and the ELN in early June during talks in Cuba. The next round of peace negotiations between the sides is planned to be held in Venezuela from August 14 to September 3. The radical left ELN consists of several thousand people and is the second largest armed rebel organization in Colombia after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Colombia, the United States and the European Union designated the ELN as a terrorist organization. The negotiation process between the government of Colombia and the ELN was launched in 2016 but stopped two years later. New rounds of negotiations between the parties were held in November-December 2022 and in March 2023 after Gustavo Petro was sworn in as the country’s president. Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela and Norway act as guarantor countries in the negotiations.