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Colombian president wins Nobel Peace Prize despite FARC deal failure

Cesar Carrion, Colombian Presidency, AFP | The Nobel committee praised Juan Manuel Santos's "resolute efforts" to bring peace to Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end his country's 52-year war with FARC rebels.

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The choice of Santos, 65, came as a surprise after Colombians rejected his peace deal with the Marxist guerrillas in a referendum last Sunday.

Despite the result, with many voters feeling the deal was too lenient on FARC, the Colombian president has vowed to not give up on the peace deal.

In its press release, the Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Santos's "resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people."

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.

Kaci Kullmann Five, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, emphasised Santos's efforts to advance the peace process following 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," she said.

"Colombia's ambassador to Norway, Alvaro Sandoval Bernal, told Norwegian broadcaster TV2, "It reiterates that there is hope for the peace process in Colombia."

Santos dedicates prize to conflict’s victims

Reacting to the news, Santos dedicated his prize to the victims of the Colombian conflict.

"I am infinitely and whole-heartedly grateful for this honour," he said in a televised address. "I receive it not in my own name, but in the name of all Colombians, especially the millions of victims of this conflict that we have suffered for more than 50 years."

The Nobel prize often goes to both sides in a peace negotiation, but this year's award excluded FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko or Timoleon Jimenez.

In a Twitter message posted hours after the announcement, Londono congratulated the Colombian president and pledged his support for peace. “I congratulate President Juan Manuel Santos, guarantors Cuba and Norway, partners Venezuela and Chilean without whom peace would be impossible,” he noted.

In an earlier Twitter post, Londono said the guerrillas only wanted peace and social justice. "The only prize we aspire to is peace with social justice for Colombia, without (right-wing) paramilitary groups, without retaliation [against leftist rebels] or lies,” he said.

First Latin American to receive prize

Santos is the first Latin American to receive the peace prize since indigenous rights campaigner Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala won in 1992, and is the second Colombian after writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the literature prize in 1982.

The Nobel Peace Prize, worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($930,000), will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

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 at the time the countries were joined in a union known as the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway and shared a common monarch.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)
 

 

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