Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to seal a landmark peace agreement with the country’s largest rebel group, although it was rejected in a post-deal referendum.
The Norwegian Nobel committee confers the accolade to 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, during the awarding ceremony in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on Friday.
Santos signed the deal with the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, in the Caribbean city of Cartagena on September 26.
On Sunday, however, a national referendum narrowly nixed the accord, deciding that the pact was too soft on the guerillas and should be renegotiated.
The decades-long conflict with the central government has left as many as 260,000 people dead, more than six million others displaced, while 45,000 others are still missing.
“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,” said 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 the FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono continue to respect the ceasefire,” she added.
Santos, though, has promised to revive the peace plan.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, American counterpart John Kerry, and the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had been nominated among 376 people for the award due to their contribution to the conclusion last year of Tehran’s landmark nuclear accord with world powers.