Colombian president wins Nobel Peace Prize 2016

Colombian president wins Nobel Peace Prize 2016
Handout picture released by the Colombian Presidency showing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaking at Narino Palace in Bogota on October 4, 2016. AFP

Oslo - The award came despite voters' shock rejection of the terms of a historic deal he reached last month with FARC chief Rodrigo Londono.


Published: Fri 7 Oct 2016, 1:11 PM

Last updated: Fri 7 Oct 2016, 11:47 PM

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a five-decades-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people in the South American country.
The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected a peace deal that Santos helped bring about.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that rejection doesn't mean the peace process is dead.
"The referendum was not a vote for or against peace," it said. "What the 'No' side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement."
The committee did not cite Santos' counterpart in the peace negotiations, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Santos and Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, signed the peace deal last month, ending a half-century of hostilities, only to see a major setback in the shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it believes that Santos, "despite the 'No' majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution."
It 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."
The agreement was reached during more than five years of at first secret negotiations in Cuba.
Santos, 65, is an unlikely peacemaker. The Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia's wealthiest families, as defense minister a decade ago, he was responsible for some of the FARC's biggest military setbacks. Those included a 2008 cross-border raid into Ecuador that took out a top rebel commander and the stealth rescue of three Americans held captive by the rebels for more than five years.
Under the peace deal he negotiated, 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.

 Timeline of Colombia conflict
Here are the key dates in Latin America's longest armed conflict, which killed 260,000 people according to Colombian authorities.
The government launches an offensive against communist groups in the center and west of the country.
On May 27, rebel commander Manuel Marulanda Velez flees the assault with 47 other men and forms the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
On March 28, conservative president Belisario Betancur launches peace talks with the FARC under a bilateral truce.
Talks break down in 1987 after right-wing paramilitaries assassinate a presidential candidate from a party allied to the FARC. Further peace efforts collapse in 1991 and 2002.
On August 30, the FARC takes 60 Colombian soldiers hostage at a military base in the south.
The raid marks the start of its strategy of mass hostage-takings, which dominates the conflict over the following years.
In June, the United States and Colombian president Andres Pastrana launch "Plan Colombia," a joint anti-narcotics strategy.
It is later broadened to include anti-guerrilla operations. Washington has spent more than $10 billion on arming and training Colombian forces.
In February, the FARC kidnaps Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, a candidate for Colombian president.
Captive for more than six years in the jungle, she becomes an international symbol of the conflict. She is rescued by the military in 2008.
The FARC's top commander, Alfonso Cano, is killed in a raid by the Colombian army on November 4.
Two other top leaders, Raul Reyes and Jorge Briceno, were killed in 2008 and 2010.
Cano is replaced by current leader Timoleon Jimenez, who makes contact with the government to consider peace talks.
On October 4, President Juan Manuel Santos's government launches new peace talks with the FARC, weakened by the loss of its top leaders.
On June 23, the FARC and the government sign a definitive ceasefire and disarmament agreement, a precursor to a comprehensive peace deal.
On September 26, they sign the full peace accord, which stipulates that the agreement must be ratified by voters in a referendum.
On October 2, Colombian citizens reject the accord by a razor-thin majority of about 56,000 votes in a shock referendum result.
The result throws Colombia's future into uncertainty. The government and the FARC say they are still committed to peace efforts.
Despite the referendum shock, Santos wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring the conflict to an end.

More news from Americas