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Failed FARC peace deal no bar, Colombian President Santos wins peace Nobel

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:45 IST
Nobel Prize/Twitter

Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, is the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Santos beat out competition from 376 other candidates, the largest pool of candidates in Nobel peace prize history. This award comes despite the four-years in the making FARC peace deal being rejected in a referendum by Colombia citizens.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that they had awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016 to Santos for his "efforts to end the civil war". The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament.

The prize will be given to the laureate on 10 December. Santos will be taking home 8 million Swedish kronor.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart and in the name of all the Colombians, especially the victims," Santos said upon hearing news of the award.

Many called this a shock result. Frontrunners, The White Helmets, congratulated Santos.

The others in the running were Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina, the Iranian nuclear deal negotiators, whistleblower Edward Snowden and even Greek islanders who worked to help refugees arriving from across the Mediterranean.

An unlikely winner

Once again, just like last year, when the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet won the award, Santos was not mentioned in any of the speculation and lists before the award.

Santos along with the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timochenko, were both in the running for the prize after signing the peace deal in September to end 52-years of war.

That, though, was before the referendum. Last Sunday, 2 October, the peace deal was shot down by Colombia's citizens by a narrow majority of 50.2% to 49.8%. The difference was 54,000 votes. About 13 million people had voted.

However, in the eyes of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the herculean efforts made by Santos seem to have been enough to bag the award.

Process over resultshttps://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2016/press.html

"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," Kaci Kullmann Five, the committee chairwoman, said.

"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".

Upon being asked if this year's prize encourages a process more than a result, Five replied, "It is an acknowledgement of the very hard work and the very important initiative that President Santos has made. And it is of course, a strong encouragement, and we hope, for all parties, in this negotiating processes, to do their utmost to reach a good result acceptable to the people."

The armed rebellion has cost Colombia more than 220,000 lives and displaced over 6 million people so far. Santos has staked his entire political legacy on reaching a deal with FARC.

Santos was elected president in 2010 while Londoño took over as leader of the rebels in 2011.

Lastly, upon hearing the news, Santos almost immediately made the point that the award given to him was on behalf of his fellow citizens.

This is the fourth Nobel Prize given out this year so far. Only two remain. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2016 or simply the Nobel Prize in Economics will be given on Monday, 10 October. After that it will be the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday, 13 October.

First published: 7 October 2016, 6:04 IST