Even though the president lost a national referendum calling for peace, he has been awarded the prize for his work
By Matt Burgess
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos for his attempt to stop the country’s decades-long civil war.
However, in an almost ironic twist, Santos’ attempt to end the internal conflict was defeated in a national referendum on October 3.
Colombian citizens rejected a peace deal to end a 52-year long civil war with Frac guerrillas. In a vote with a low turnout (38 per cent) a tiny minority of 50.2 per cent of 13 million voters said the deal should not go ahead.
The president had spent four years negotiating the deal which would have put an end to deaths caused by the infighting. Before the vote, it had been predicted a vote to stop the war would win with a 60 per cent share of the vote. Just days after the decision a ceasefire in the country was ordered to be stopped – it will end on October 31.
This did not deter the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee though, who rewarded Santos for his overall commitment to trying to create a peaceful country. “He has consistently sought to move the peace process forward,” the organisation said.
“The fact a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean the peace process is dead. The referendum was not a vote for or against peace”.
The Nobel committee continued to say that Santos’ work led to the referendum and he will be continuing to lead a “broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process”.
Santos, who has been leader of the country since 2010, was not deterred by the negative result. “I will not give up,” he said after the result. “I will continue seeking peace until the last day of my presidency.”