Colombia weighing whether to suspend EMC ceasefire after bombings: defense minister

Supporters of Colombia's President Petro march in support of reforms proposed by his government, in Bogota

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) -Colombian President Gustavo Petro is weighing whether to fully suspend a ceasefire with the Estado Mayor Central (EMC) rebel group, Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez said on Tuesday, after two bombings attributed to the group in the southeastern province of Cauca.

The explosions, in the towns of Jamundi and Morales, occurred on Monday. The Morales bomb killed four people, including two police officers.

"It has been the subject of consideration, discussion and is still a subject of analysis," Velasquez told journalists. "The president is weighing all the elements that we provide and it is ultimately him who will determine when and where there is or is not a ceasefire."

The 3,500-strong EMC are rebels who rejected a landmark 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), previously the country's largest guerrilla organization.

Petro has promised to end the 60-year conflict, which has killed 450,000 people, through new peace deals, but he is confronting significant hurdles including fraught negotiations with the EMC begun last year.

The EMC entered peace talks with the Petro government last year, but Petro partially suspended a ceasefire with them in three provinces in March because of violence.

The group has constructed a pseudo-state in some of Colombia's south, building roads and schools, and further complicating the talks.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime AcostaWriting by Julia Symmes Cobb)