‘I want him alive’: Colombia’s Petro demands capture of rebel leader

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 12:08 PM

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro ordered the country’s military to capture the top leader of the Estado Mayor Central, aggravating a breakdown in relations between the illegal armed group and the government as they hold peace talks.

Petro issued the order on Thursday night at an event in Colombia’s Sucre province, demanding that troops capture Ivan Mordisco, the top commander of the EMC, a dissident faction of the now-demobilized FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal with the state.

“I want them to capture Ivan Mordisco alive – don’t kill him (…) I don’t want them to kill him out there, I want him alive, because he’s going to prison, to talk,” Petro told a local crowd.

The EMC did not immediately respond to Petro’s comments.

The president’s order to capture Mordisco came after talks with the EMC hit a crisis point last weekend, when the government suspended its bilateral ceasefire with the group in three provinces after its members attacked an Indigenous community and killed one of its leaders.

The talks form part of Petro’s policy of total peace, which aims to end the country’s armed conflict of almost six decades, which has killed at least 450,000 people.

Analysts warned the suspension of the bilateral ceasefire in the provinces of Narino, Cauca and Valle del Cauca, as well as barbs traded between Petro and Mordisco – who accused the president of betrayal – threatened to end peace talks between the two sides.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin)