Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos awarded Nobel Peace Prize for bid to end half-century conflict
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist rebels, a surpise choice after Colombians voted against the accord in a referendum.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Santos had brought one of the longest civil wars in modern history significantly closer to a peaceful solution but there was still a real danger the peace process could come to a halt.
The Nobel committee praised him for a peace deal signed with Farc rebels, but rejected by Colombians in a vote.
Mr Santos said he dedicated the award to “all the victims of the conflict”, and the Farc leader congratulated him.
In a televised address from the Colombian capital Bogota, Santos declared: “I infinitely appreciate this honorable distinction with all my heart.
“I receive it not in my name, but in the name of all Colombians, especially to the millions of victims left by this conflict that we have suffered for more than 50 years. Colombians, this prize is yours.”
Flanked by his wife Maria Clemencia Rodriguez, Santos called on his countrymen to support the peace process, “and start to construct a stable and long lasting peace.”
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 7, 2016
Mr Santos said on Twitter: “This honourable distinction is not for me, it’s for all the victims of the conflict. Together we’ll win the most important award of them all: peace.”
The peace deal, however, was rejected by 50.2% of voters who went to the polls on 2 October.
The Colombian peace process had been touted as a clear favourite for the prize, but experts suggested that its chances had gone up in smoke after the referendum’s shock result.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the peace process is dead,” Mrs. Kullman Five, head of the Nobel committee, told reporters in Oslo. Despite great hardships and abuses, she said, the Colombian people haven’t given up hope of a just peace.