OSLO, Norway, Oct. 7 (UPI) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, lauded for his efforts to end his country’s 52-year civil war, won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The award comes after Santos secured a peace accord with FARC rebels after four years of negotiations. Despite voters rejecting the deal by a slim margin, the Nobel Committee praised the approach Santos took to accomplishing the deal.
Santos, 65, has vowed to continue negotiations to a successful end. Critics say Santos has given the guerrilla group too many concessions.
“Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes 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,” the committee said. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue.”
The committee praised Santos for initiating the negotiations and was instrumental in ensuring voters had a voice in the outcome. Even though the failed vote created uncertainty, Santos has moved forward, the committee said.
“There is a real danger that the peace process will come to a halt and that civil war will flare up again. This makes it even more important that the parties, headed by President Santos and FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londoño, continue to respect the ceasefire,” the committee said.
“Striking a balance between the need for national reconciliation and ensuring justice for the victims will be a particularly difficult challenge. There are no simple answers to how this should be accomplished. An important feature of the Colombian peace process so far has been the participation of representatives of civil war victims,” the committee said.