Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Wins 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
Santos has been announced as this year's laureate for his efforts to bring peace to the country in the decades-long civil war with FARC guerillas. Santos said he was "humbled and eternally grateful" for the award.
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has been announced as the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts to bring peace to the country.
Santos's government narrowly lost a referendum on a peace deal aimed at ending the more than 50-year civil war with FARC guerrillas earlier this week, but he has nonetheless been chosen as this year's laureate by the Norwegian Nobel Committee "for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.”
Speaking at the press conference in Oslo, committee leader Kaci Kullmann Five said: "President Santos initiated the negotiations that culminated in the peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, and he has consistently sought to move the peace process forward.
"Well knowing that the accord was controversial, he was instrumental in ensuring that Colombian voters were able to voice their opinion concerning the peace accord in a referendum. The outcome of the vote was not what President Santos wanted: A narrow majority of the over 13 million Colombians who cast their ballots said no to the accord."
"This result has created great uncertainty as to the future of Colombia. 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 Londoño, continue to respect the ceasefire.
The spokeswoman refused to comment as to why Londoño — also known by the aliases Timoleón Jiménez and Timochenko — had not been given a share in the prize, and whether this was because it would be inappropriate to award it to the head of a guerrilla organization. She said the Nobel committee does not comment on those who do not become a laureate.
The referendum defeat — by a margin of just 0.4 percent — has plunged the country into political uncertainty, and has forced Santos to start negotiations with former President Álvaro Uribe, who lead the campaign to reject the deal. Santos announced the bilateral ceasefire will end on October 31, opening the possibility of renewed confrontations.
Speaking via telephone to Adam Smith of Nobel Media, Santos said he was "grateful" for the award and received it with and hoped it would be a "stimulus" to complete the peace process.
"I receive this with great emotion. This is something that will forever be important for my country — for the people who have suffered with this war, especially the victims."
"This is a great, great recognition for my country, I am humbled and eternally grateful," Santos said.
The favorite for this year's peace prize had been the Syrian Civil Defense — the volunteer search and rescue group also known as the White Helmets.
Following news of Santos's win, the group tweeted their congratulations to the Colombian president.
Santos becomes the second Colombian-born Nobel winner: Gabriel García Márquez won the literature prize in 1982.