Guwahati, (Agencies): With the commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah rejecting the peace talks between New Delhi and the rebel leadership now out on bail, the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has vertically split.

An emailed statement by Arunodoi Dohotia, ULFA publicity secretary, said, "The decision taken by the general council to hold peace talks with the government cannot be considered legal as the general council itself was unconstitutional.”

The ULFA leadership on Saturday said that the outfit's general council held last week decided to open unconditional peace talks with the central government and that all the resolutions adopted at that meeting were conveyed to Paresh Baruah.

The general council meeting was chaired by ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and was attended among others by vice chairman Pradep Gogoi, deputy commander-in-chief Raju Baruah, self-styled foreign secretary Sasha Choudhury, finance secretary Chitraban Hazarika, cultural secretary Pranati Deka and octogenarian political ideologue Bhimkanta Buragohain.

All the top eight ULFA leaders are out on bail now with the government facilitating their release from prison to pave the way for formal peace talks.

The first round of peace talks between the government and the ULFA leadership was scheduled Feb 10 in New Delhi with Rajkhowa leading the rebel side while union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai was expected to represent the government.

The ULFA statement read, "We held an emergency meeting at our general headquarters (somewhere in Myanmar) that began Sunday and concluded early Monday and we decided the general council meeting chaired by our chairman was unconstitutional as the meeting was held under the influence of our enemy (government)," adding that the emergency meeting was chaired by Paresh Baruah who is believed to be somewhere along the China-Myanmar border.

"We have also decided that the proposed peace talks are unconstitutional and hence we decided not to support such a dialogue process."

The ULFA statement has clearly exposed chinks in the peace process and the very fact that outfit is now split between the pro-talk faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa and Paresh Baruah, bitterly opposed to the negotiations.

The pro-talk faction is expected to come up with a reaction later Monday.