Nobel Peace Prize winner: Colombian president Juan Santos awarded accolade despite failure of Farc deal

The winner has been announced at the Nobel Institute in Oslo

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The Independent Online

The Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize days after his peace deal was rejected in a referendum. 

Announcing their decision in Oslo, the Nobel committee praised Mr Santos' “resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”.

Mr Santos' peace deal with Farc guerillas, the result of four years of negotiations, was narrowly rejected in a referendum in the country on Sunday. But the Nobel committee said despite the shock result of the referendum, Mr Santos "has brought the bloody conflict significantly closer to a peaceful resolution".

The referendum result caused shockwaves across the country. The peace deal had been signed by both Mr Santos and Farc leader Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez. Having it approved by voters was considered just a formality.

The committee also praised Mr Santos for saying he would fight for peace until his final day as President.

A spokesperson said: “The committee hopes that the peace prize will give him strength to succeed in this demanding task. Further, it is the committee’s hope that in the years to come, the Colombian people will reap the fruits of the reconciliation process.”

When asked by a journalist if Mr Santos will be "as surprised as the rest of us", the committee spokesperson said they had not yet made contact with Mr Santos.

That was not surprising, with the award being announced in the middle of the night in Colombia. But the Nobel media group on Twitter later quoted Mr Santos as saying: “I have received this award in their name: the Colombian people who have suffered so much with this war.” 

The White Helmets volunteer search and rescue group, who are believed to have rescued up to 60,000 people in war-torn Syria, were widely tipped to receive the award.

After the winner was announced, the group sent a congratulatory message to Mr Santos on Twitter. 

Others who were believed to have been nominated for the prize included a group of inhabitants from Greek islands who have rescued refugees after they made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean.

Pope Francis, Edward Snowden and Iranian architects of the landmark nuclear deal with world powers were also rumoured to have been nominated. The committee does not reveal its shortlist.

The peace prize is the one of the five Nobel Prizes along with Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Literature. Last year, the surprise winners of the accolade were the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet who were heralded for bringing peace in the country after the Arab Spring. 

The year before, Malala Yousafzai, the girls’ education campaigner who was shot in the head by the Taliban at the age of 15, became the youngest ever winner when she was jointly awarded the prize with the Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi.