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The Colombian president has won the Nobel Peace Prize even though his country just rejected peace

7th October 2016

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Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize - despite his country rejecting the deal he'd spent six years building.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee rewarded Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”.

The committee 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”.

It did not cite his counterpart in peace negotiations, Rodrigo Londono, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

 Juan Manuel Santos arrives to deliver a statement (Fernando Vergara/AP)
(Fernando Vergara/AP)

Santos and Londono signed a peace deal last month, set to end half a century of hostilities that have killed more than 200,000 Colombians – only to see their efforts collapse following a shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.

In their official explanation as to why the prize was awarded despite the unexpected referendum result, the Nobel committee said: 

“The fact that a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead. The referendum was not a vote for or against peace. What the “No” side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement. The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasises the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process."

One of the front runners for the prize was Syria’s White Helmets, a volunteer group that rescues victims from the rubble of bombed buildings in the country. People are praising them for tweeting their congratulations to Santos.

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