Colombian President Santos to donate Nobel prize money to conflict victims

Colombian President Santos to donate Nobel prize money to conflict victims

After over 50 years of conflict and 4 years of negotiations, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC commander Rodrigo Londoño signed a historic peace agreement last week, seeking to end the internal conflict that has shaped Colombian society and politics since the 1960s.

A peace deal agreed by Mr Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was narrowly rejected by voters in a shock referendum result, during the first weekend of October.

Some observers expressed surprise the FARC leader was not jointly honored by the award.

"I remain confident that before long the spirit of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect you have fostered will bear fruit and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for Colombia", the Tibetan leader added.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is again courting controversy, with this year's award to the president of Colombia.

He also signed the accord after almost four years of negotiations held by government and rebel delegates in the Cuban capital, Havana. Even if the peace deal had won the referendum it would be obvious that.

Mr Santos said he dedicated the award to "all the victims of the conflict".

Residents gave him a replica of the Christ statue mutilated during the attack, a gift the president said he values as much as the Nobel Prize and which encourages him to find a way to implement the peace accord.

"We're going to persevere. We are very, very close, we just need to push a bit further". The war has cost the lives of more than 220,000 and displaced six million people.

A divided Colombia had mixed reactions to Santos's win.

Many voters believed it was too lenient on the guerrillas.

"They kill families, and we're supposed to get down on our knees for them", he said.

Santos, who has staked his legacy on ending the country's half-century conflict, has sought to battle back by opening talks with the deal's top opponent, his predecessor and former boss, Alvaro Uribe.

Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN, freed a civilian hostage Monday, the Red Cross said, the rebels' third such release in recent days as they apparently prepare to open peace talks with the government.

Nobel watchers had initially tipped both Santos and Jimenez as likely winners. "Santos has placed his own people inside the committee".

The parties also invited countries that were contributing to the Mission with unarmed observers, to continue deploying its men and women, who would continue to have all the necessary safety guarantees.

Is the decision to award Nobel Peace Prize political?