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Colombian President Wins Nobel Peace Prize


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (left) and the head of the FARC guerrilla group, Timoleon Jimenez aka Timochenko, shake hands during the signing of the historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC on September 26.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending a 52-year-long civil war in his country.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement on October 7 in Oslo that "President Santos initiated the negotiations that culminated in the peace accord between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, and he has consistently sought to move the peace process forward."

Santos said from Colombia that he was "overwhelmed" and "very grateful" in winning the prize. He said he would accept it in the name of the Colombian people and that the award was "incredibly important" for Colombia's peace process.

Santos won the award despite losing a referendum on the peace deal on October 2 in which Colombian voters narrowly rejected the agreement, which many thought was too lenient toward the rebel fighters.

Colombia's civil war, which began in 1962 as a peasant uprising, has killed at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced millions of others.

Santos has promised to rework the peace plan.

"The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people," Nobel Committee leader Kaci Kullmann Five said, adding that voters did not say "No" to peace but to the agreement.

The award did not mention Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, who signed the deal with Santos.

"The only prize to which we aspire is that of peace with social justice for a Colombia without paramilitarism, without retaliation nor lies," wrote Timochenko in a tweet after the announcement of Santos as the winner of the Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Committee statement said the "No" vote in the referendum did not mean the "the peace process is dead."

"This makes it even more important that the parties, headed by President Santos and FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, continue to respect the cease-fire," it said.

The annual winner of the Nobel Peace Prize receives 8 million Swedish crowns (about $930,000).

The award will be presented to Santo in Oslo on December 10.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AP