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Colombian president wins Nobel Peace Prize

Oct 07, 2016, 6:42 AM EDT
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
(Source: Center for American Progress/flickr)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his extensive efforts aimed at ending the country’s 52-year long conflict with Marxist guerillas. The announcement by the Nobel committee in Norway came as a surprise as Colombian voters rejected the peace agreement with F.A.R.C. rebels in a referendum held on Sunday. Committee leader Kaci Kullmann Five described the award as a tribute to the Colombian people, who she said, rejected the accord and not peace.  

Social media reacted with a bit of surprise and disappointment that the Syrian White Helmets, a group that braves deadly bombing and shelling to save lives daily in the war-ravaged country, didn’t win the Nobel, writes The Guardian. One of the comments put out on Twitter read, “Congrats for the Syrian heroes for winning our hearts and losing a stone prize.”

The Colombian conflict has claimed more than 260,000 lives and displaced some six million over five decades, notes the BBC. The recent peace deal, which was signed by Santos and F.A.R.C. guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, faced sharp criticism and was voted down in a shock result, as many Colombians believed it was too lenient on those who perpetrated war crimes for years.

Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe, who led the “No” campaign in the referendum on the peace accord, has strongly objected to the provisions that would allow the rebels to escape jail term if they plead guilty.