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Colombia talks with EMC armed group in crisis, analysts say

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Peace talks in Colombia between the government and the Estado Mayor Central are in crisis, threatening to end negotiations and ramp up clashes between the armed group and the country's military, analysts said on Thursday.

Over the weekend, the government of President Gustavo Petro suspended a bilateral ceasefire with the EMC, a dissident faction of the now-demobilized FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal with the state, in three provinces after members of the group attacked an Indigenous group and killed one of their 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.

"The negotiation with this group is seriously damaged," said conflict expert and analyst Eduardo Pizarro.

The tension ramped up on Wednesday when Petro accused EMC commander Ivan Mordisco of ​​being a drug trafficker "dressed as a revolutionary."

Petro's comments prompted Mordisco's ire, who accused the leftist president of promoting "war and capitalism" in a message published on X.

Following the suspension of the ceasefire in the provinces of Narino, Cauca and Valle de Cauca, Colombia's military and police resumed operations against the EMC.

While the ceasefire holds in other areas of the country as the talks continue, a total breakdown in negotiations will see fighting ramp up, analysts said.

"If negotiations break down there will be an increase in conflict and hostilities, with more attacks on the military by the EMC and an increase in fighting amid an offensive targeting the group," said Henry Acosta, who helped facilitate negotiations that led to the FARC's demobilization in 2016.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sandra Maler)