Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos wins Nobel peace prize

Award comes despite voters' rejection of FARC deal in recent referendum

colombia

Juan Manuel Santos makes the victory sign after voting in the recent peace deal referendum | Photo: PA Images

The Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring an end to 52 years of war.

Mr Santos signed an agreement with the Marxist rebel group Farc after years of negotiations. The agreement was rejected by voters in a referendum just days ago.

He has promised to revive the peace plan despite the shock result.

Committee chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five said the Colombian president was selected for the prize in recognition of "his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end".

In its announcement, 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".

However, it did not cite Mr Santos' counterpart in the negotiations, FARC leader Rodrigo Londono.

President Michael D Higgins congratulated his Colombian counterpart in a statement, describing the award as "both welcome and deserved".

"In honouring President Santos, the committee is recognising all those who are struggling to build democracy in support of support human rights and the rule of law," he said.

"This award also reminds us that the path to political reform and sustainable development is an arduous one. It requires leadership and determination, and a recognition of the necessity of being able to place oneself in the shoes of the other.

"I would like to pay tribute to all of the diplomatic efforts that have gone into building the Colombian peace process, which has very recently suffered reverses but which is of the utmost importance to the people of Colombia. 

"I would like to compliment all those involved for their part in bringing the process to this point."

Ceasefire

Some Nobel watchers had taken Colombia off their list after the referendum result, which many attributed to the fact that the deal was seen as too lenient on FARC guerrillas. 

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

"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 deal was reached after five years of secret talks held in Cuba.

It stated that 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 65-year-old Mr Santos is the Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia's wealthiest families and a former defence minister.