Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a five-decades-long civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people in the South American country.
The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal that Santos helped bring about, and Nobel authorities conspicuously left out his counterpart, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, from the honor.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that voters’ rejection doesn’t mean the peace process is dead.
“The referendum was not a vote for or against peace,” it said. “What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement.”
Santos and Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, signed the peace deal last month, ending a half-century of hostilities, only to see a major setback in the shock vote against the agreement in a referendum six days later.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it believes that Santos, “despite the ‘No’ majority vote in the referendum, has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful solution.”
It said the award should also be seen “as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process.”
The agreement was reached during more than five years of at first secret negotiations in Cuba.