The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos early Friday morning for his efforts to negotiate a truce between his country’s government and a rebel guerrilla group, despite voters' narrow rejection of the peace deal days ago.
“The civil war in Colombia is one of the longest civil wars in modern times and the sole remaining armed conflict in the Americas,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement.
“It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's firm belief that President Santos, despite the ‘No’ majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution, and that much of the groundwork has been laid for both the verifiable disarmament of the FARC guerrillas and a historic process of national fraternity and reconciliation.”
Noticeably absent from the Nobel Committee’s commendation was rebel leader Rodrigo Londoño, better known by his nom de guerre, Timochenko.
In a phone interview with a representative from the committee, Santos said he was grateful for the award and vowed to continue his pursuit of peace.
“The message is that we have to persevere until we reach the end of this war,” he said.
“This is something that all of the Colombian people will receive with great emotion,” he added.
A peace agreement that Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had negotiated to end the 52-year war was defeated in a referendum Sunday. The agreement was rejected by 50.2 percent of the vote, while 49.8 percent backed the deal.
Both parties have agreed to hold off on fighting to explore further options for peace.