Cuba urges Colombia, ELN rebels to follow peace talks protocol

A Colombian youth takes part in a demonstration demanding efforts to continue the peace talks between the government and the ELN guerrillas on January 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2019

Cuba urges Colombia, ELN rebels to follow peace talks protocol

  • Cuba has found itself in a diplomatic bind since Colombia’s President Ivan Duque asked it last week to extradite ELN leaders
  • ELN admitted responsibility in a car bomb blast at a police academy in Bogota that killed 21 people

HAVANA: Cuba called on the Colombian government and ELN rebels on Friday to follow the protocol of the peace talks it had been hosting and implement measures needed, including security guarantees, to allow 10 ELN leaders in Havana to return to Colombia.
Cuba has found itself in a diplomatic bind since Colombia’s President Ivan Duque asked it last week to extradite those leaders following an ELN car bomb blast at a police academy in Bogota that killed 21 people.
The Cuban government condemned the attack but said it would follow the protocols agreed at the start of negotiations in 2017. These provide security guarantees for guerrilla commanders to return to Colombia or Venezuela within 15 days of an end to talks and bar military offensives for 72 hours. “Cuba’s foreign ministry calls on the Colombian government and the ELN to adopt the relevant measures that would allow the proceedings for the return of the ELN delegation in accordance with the protocol,” it said in a statement.
Duque has said the protocols do not apply since his government never participated in talks started by Former President Juan Manuel Santos. He had refused to restart the negotiations until the ELN freed all hostages and stopped criminal activities.
Though the notoriously decentralized ELN claimed responsibility for the car bombing last week, calling the attack a legitimate attack of war, its leaders in Cuba have said they were not involved.
Some analysts say the Colombian government should be obliged to accept the protocols despite the change of administration.
The Cuban foreign ministry said it had sent a verbal note to its Colombian counterpart recalling the commitments it and the ELN had undertaken, sending a copy of the note to the other countries overseeing the peace talks.
Cuba, which had previously hosted talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that led to a peace agreement in 2016, recalled that it had offered to be the seat of peace talks last year as a “goodwill gesture.”
The original host Ecuador pulled its support for the talks, saying it would not host them as long as the guerrillas continued to wage attacks.


Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

Updated 22 November 2019

Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

  • Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez
  • Rifaat Assad is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets

MADRID: Spain is heading toward a money laundering trial against an uncle of Syrian president Bashar Assad, the High Court said on Friday, after an investigating judge finished his probe.
The prosecuting office has ten days to comment on the judge’s recommendation that the case goes ahead, which is considered a formality, after which a trial start date will be set, the court said.
Two years ago, the High Court confiscated over €600 million ($663.24 million) of assets thought to be linked to Rifaat Assad.
He is a former military commander, widely held responsible for crushing an uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.
Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez. He now lives in exile between France and Britain.
He is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets.