Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (R) delivers a statement after the announcement of being awarded with the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, accompanied by his wife Maria Clemencia Rodriguez (L) in Bogota, Colombia, on Oct. 7, 2016. (Xinhua/COLPRENSA)
OSLO, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his resolute efforts to bring his country's five-decade-long civil war to an end, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday.
"The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people, who ... have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process," Kaci Kullmann Five, chairperson of the five-member committee, said in her announcement.
Santos initiated the negotiations that culminated in a peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group. But the peace agreement was narrowly rejected in a referendum on Sunday.
"The fact that a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead," Five said. "The referendum was not a vote for or against peace. What the 'No' side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement."
She warned that the referendum result has created great uncertainty as to the future of Colombia, saying 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 Londono, continue to respect the ceasefire," the chairperson said.
Santos began talks on Wednesday with leaders opposing the current peace deal to seek ways for the union and reconciliation of the country. Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and other leaders of the opposition party the Democratic Center attended the meeting.
Five said the Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process.
"The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks," she said.
There are 376 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016, out of which 228 are individuals and 148 are organizations. This is by far the highest number of candidates ever. The previous record, 278 candidates, was set in 2014. Enditem