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Not so noble after all! Colombian president Santos gets Nobel Peace Prize for "rejected" peace deal

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his "efforts" to bring peace to his nation.

The Nobel Committee lauded Santos and his statement that he would fight for peace until his last day in office. “The committee hopes that the peace prize will give him the strength to succeed in this demanding task. Further, it is the committee’s hope that in the year’s to come, the Colombian people will reap the fruits of the reconciliation process,” The Guardian quoted committee spokeswoman, Kaci Kullmann Five, as saying.

File image of Colombia's President Santos. AP

File image of Colombia's President Santos. AP

Going by that logic, they should have also given the award to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (most commonly known as Farc) rebels, the biggest rebel group in Colombia.

Santos and Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko had signed the peace accord on August 25 this year, agreeing to end a 52-year-old conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people and left 45,000 missing over half a century, drawing in several leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs. The main founders of Farc were small farmers and land workers who had banded together to fight against the staggering levels of inequality in Colombia at the time.

However, the Committee said that Santos' role as president and  "keeper of the process" was very important and while other attempts have been made to achieve peace in the country in the past, Santos went "all in".

Success is subjective

The anomaly to be noted here is that the prize given to Santos is for his "efforts", which culminated in an "unsuccessful" peace deal with Farc. The Colombian voters rejected the peace accord with the Farc rebels in a referendum on October 2, throwing both the sides in a quandary. They are still struggling to find a solution.

However, the Committee believes that the peace deal itself was not rejected by Colombo. Rather, the specifics of the accord were. Ironically, the Committee acknowledged that the result of the referendum could lead to a flare-up of conflict and civil war in the country. It also encouraged Santos and the Farc rebels to respect the accord.

However, the fact remains that the future of Colombo is dubious even as negotiators are trying to resurrect the deal. After the referendum was rejected, Farc leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko took to Twitter to ask: "And after that, the war continues?"

Even Santos has agreed that Colombo is “in a kind of limbo that is dangerous and risky that could throw back this whole process of peace and negotiation with the rebels."

The NewYorker reported that the victory of the "No" side has triggered a political crisis of unforeseeable proportions in Colombia. Nobody knows what will happen next. According to AFP, the rebels who were expected to abandon their jungle and move to neutral ground, returned to their hideouts in the jungle on Thursday.

An inconsistent nomination?

It is also interesting to note that soon after the Colombians rejected the peace accord, the Nobel Peace Prize committee had announced that the name of Santos and Timoshenko were dropped from the nomination list. The PanamPost had reported that the historian of Nobel laureates Asle Sveen said that that if "no" won in the referendum, all chances were out of the window.

It really is a miracle that they were nominated again. And not only that, Santos actually won after being dropped from the nomination!

Criticising the Nobel committee, The New Yorker said, "The Nobel Peace Prize is given to someone who possibly agreed to Israeli-made Kfir fighter jets roaring close overhead Timochenko during his public speech, the report further states. It might have been a show of force by Santos to reduce the impact of Timochenko’s public appearance."

Were it Santos' efforts to talk to his predecessor and former boss Alvaro Uribe to salvage the peace process that won him the Nobel Peace Prize or, his commitment to work with the "No" camp to find a path towards a peace accord? No one knows and no one will know. The committee spokeswoman has said, “we never comment on the process.”

With inputs from AFP.

Updated Date: Oct 07, 2016 16:49 PM

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