Colombian President Santos gets Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been declared winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. His choice may be a surprise but his effort to end a protracted civil war in his country appears to have got him the coveted prize.

The Nobel Committee made the announcement in Oslo on Friday, five days after voters in Colombia narrowly rejected a peace deal that Santos government had made with FARC rebels.

The committee said it had awarded Santos the prize for “his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.”

It added, “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.”

Santos administration spent four years negotiating a deal with former guerrilla group FARC. But rejection of the deal by people was a major blow to Santos’ efforts for reconciliation. Though Colombians wanted peace they demanded adequate punishment to rebel leaders when the peace deal was struck. The government could not do it under the tough conditions the rebels had negotiated to give up their struggle.

The Nobel Committee said the outcome “was not what President Santos wanted,” but it acknowledged that he was “instrumental in ensuring that Colombian voters were able to voice their opinion concerning the peace accord in a referendum.”

Under the peace deal, rebels who turn over their weapons and confess to war crimes will be spared time in jail and 10 seats in congress through 2026 for their transition into a political movement. This is the first time Peace Prize has gone to a Latin American since 1992, when it was awarded to the Guatemala human rights activist Rigoberta Menchu.

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