Efforts by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to end five decades of war in his country were recognised with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The award came despite voters’ shock rejection of the terms of a historic deal he reached last month with FARC chief Rodrigo Londono, alias Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez, after nearly four years of talks.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Colombian President Juan Manuel 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.
“There is a real danger that the peace process will come to a halt and that civil war will flare up again. This makes it even more important that the parties, headed by President Santos and FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, continue to respect the ceasefire,” she said.
The Colombian peace process had been seen as a possible winner of the prestigious prize, but experts had suggested that its chances went up in smoke after voters’ rejection of the peace deal.
“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 referendum was not a vote for or against peace. What the “No” side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement,” Five said.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasises the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process.”
Santos takes home the eight million Swedish kronor (around $924,000 or 831,000 euros) prize sum.
Swedish inventor and scholar Alfred Nobel created the prizes in his 1895 testament, stipulating that his fortune was to be placed in a fund destined to honour “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”.
The peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” his will said.
The peace prize is the only one of the six awards announced in Norway. Nobel wanted to include Norway in his initiative, since Norway and Sweden were joined in a union at the time.Punch