Colombian president wins the Nobel Peace Prize – days after his country voted to reject ceasefire with FARC rebels and end 50-year civil war

  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Norwegian Nobel Committee thanked him for his 'resolute' civil war effort
  • Just days ago Columbia voted to reject a ceasefire with FARC rebels    
  • The five-decades-long civil war has killed more than 200,000 in Columbia 

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a five-decades-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people in the South American country.

The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected a peace deal that Santos helped bring about.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that rejection doesn't mean the peace process is dead. 

President Santos said he is 'overwhelmed' and 'grateful' for being the recipient of the award. 

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Santos 'for his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end,' said committee chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five.

But just days ago, his country voted to reject a ceasefire with rebels and end the decades-long infighting. 

The committee said the award should also be seen 'as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process'.

It did not cite his counterpart in peace negotiations, Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

Mr Santos and Mr Londono signed a peace deal last month ending half a century of hostilities that killed more than 200,000 Colombians, only to see their efforts collapse following a shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

Santos has promised to revive the peace plan even though Colombians, in the referendum on Sunday, narrowly rejected the accord. 

Many voters believed it was too lenient on the FARC guerrillas.

Talking of the award, committee chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five insisted voters did not say 'No' to peace but to the agreement.

The award pointedly excluded FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nickname Timochenko, who signed the deal with Santos.

Some Nobel watchers had taken Colombia off their lists of favourites after the referendum.

'The fact that a majority of the voters said 'No' to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead,' the committee said.

'This makes it even more important that the parties, headed by President Santos and FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, continue to respect the ceasefire,' the committee said.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (left) and Timoleon Jimenez, aka 'Timochenko' (right), head of the FARC leftist guerrilla, shake hands accompanied by Cuban President Raul Castro (C) during the signing of the peace agreement in Havana, Cuba in June this year

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (left) and Timoleon Jimenez, aka 'Timochenko' (right), head of the FARC leftist guerrilla, shake hands accompanied by Cuban President Raul Castro (C) during the signing of the peace agreement in Havana, Cuba in June this year

The initial agreement was reached during more than five years of at first secret negotiations in Cuba.

Santos, 65, is an unlikely peacemaker. 

The Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia's wealthiest families, as defense minister a decade ago, he was responsible for some of the FARC's biggest military setbacks. 

Those included a 2008 cross-border raid into Ecuador that took out a top rebel commander and the stealth rescue of three Americans held captive by the rebels for more than five years.

Under the peace deal he negotiated, rebels who turn over their weapons and confess to war crimes will be spared time in jail and the FARC will get 10 seats in congress through 2026 to smooth their transition into a political movement.

The Nobel Peace Prize, worth nearly £750,000, will be presented in OIslo on December 10. 

HOW THE WORLD REACTED TO JUAN MANUEL SANTOS' WIN 

'I congratulate President Santos for the Nobel. I hope it leads to a change in the accords that are damaging for our democracy.' - Santos' arch rival and predecessor, Colombian conservative hardliner Alvaro Uribe.

'We obviously all hope, having been there during the process and invested in it, that this can still work out and get over the hurdles that remain.' - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

 'This is an extraordinary stage for Colombia in its intense search for peace. Santos now has a lot to do to take Colombians down the path of peace.' - Guatemalan indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchu, who won the Nobel in 1992.

'This award says to them: you have come too far to turn back now. The peace process should inspire our world.' - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on what this year's Nobel Peace Prize means for Colombians.

'I wish you and the Colombian people great strength, stamina and success in the future in taking the next steps on the way to lasting peace.' - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a congratulatory note to Santos.

'We hope today's announcement will embolden the parties to continue efforts to reach a definitive peace agreement that ensures the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation and brings an end to the human rights violations that have marked the armed conflict.' - Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.

'What pride for our region! Keep working to ensure that peace becomes a reality.' - Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.

'We hope to help consolidate peace in Colombia.' - Argentine rights defender Adolfo Perez Esquivel, 1980 Nobel Peace laureate.

 

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