The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his ongoing efforts to end a five-decade-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people.
The prize came to Santos just days after Colombian voters by a slight margin rejected a landmark peace agreement that Santos had negotiated with rebel leaders, a significant blow to hopes for a lasting peace.
CCTV America’s Toby Muse reports. Follow Toby Muse on Twitter @tobymuse
Nobel Peace Prize goes to Colombia President Santoshe Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his ongoing efforts to end a five-decade-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people. The prize came to Santos just days after Colombian voters by a slight margin rejected a landmark peace agreement that Santos had negotiated with rebel leaders, a significant blow to hopes for a lasting peace. CCTV America's Toby Muse reports.
Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s former president and Santos’ opponent in the FARC deal, expressed hope the Nobel prize would encourage a different path for achieving the peace.
“I congratulate President Santos for the Nobel. I hope it leads to a change in the accords that are damaging for our democracy,” Uribe said.
Voters under plebiscite narrowly rejected the peace deal, with some calling it too lenient on the FARC who have carried out bomb attacks and kidnappings. Critics of the deal demanded extensive changes and further negotiations that could drag on for years.
With the chaos of the plebiscite, many had assumed Colombia would not win the coveted peace prize.
In a press conference held at the presidential palace in Bogota, Colombia, Santos said he dedicated the prize to the people of Colombia, particularly those who “have suffered in this war that we are on the verge of ending.”
The 65-year-old Colombian president was recognized for tireless efforts to end the chronic violence that has gripped his South American country for decades. The deal he helped negotiate would have given the rebel forces substantial inducements to join the political process. Those willing to hand over their weapons and admit to war crimes would not have received prison sentences, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia would have been granted 10 seats in congress for the next decade to give the group known as FARC a foothold in national politics.
In an interview for the Nobel Committee website, Santos stated “It’s simply a matter of believing in a cause and there is no better cause for any society, for any country, than living in Peace.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the peace process is still ongoing and that the public did not reject peace but simply the specifics of this deal. It also said the award is intended to honor the Colombian people, who have not given up their hopes for peace. The committee did not choose to honor Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the FARC rebels, or to mention him in the citation.
The violent civil war has long held back economic and social progress in Colombia, a country known for its beauty and natural resources.
Many had believed the country’s rejection of the peace deal in a referendum had quashed his chances of being recognized by the Nobel committee.
A stunning referendum defeat for a peace deal with leftist rebels leaves Colombians with no Plan B to save an accord that sought to bring an end to a half century of hostilities.
Story by The Associated Press
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