Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring an end to 52 years of war.
Mr Santos signed an agreement with the Marxist rebel group FARC last month after years of negotiations – but the deal was rejected by voters in a referendum on Sunday.
He has promised to revive the peace plan despite the shock result, and the award might give him a much-needed boost.
In his first comments after receiving the award, relayed by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, he said he felt ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘grateful’, and added the award would be ‘of valuable importance to further the peace process’.
The Nobel was awarded in recognition of Mr Santos’ ‘resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end’.
In her announcement in Oslo, committee chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five 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’.
However, the award excluded Mr Santos’ counterpart in the negotiations, FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko.
He said that ‘the only prize we aspire to is peace with social justice for Colombia’.
The prize was seen as a surprise.
Some Nobel watchers had taken Colombia off their list after the referendum result, which many attributed to the fact the deal was seen as too lenient on FARC guerrillas.
The committee said that ‘the fact that a majority of the voters said ‘No’ to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead’.
Members added: ‘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 deal was reached after five years of secret talks held in Cuba. It aimed to end a civil war that has killed more than 200,000 Colombians and displaced six million people.
Under the agreement, rebels who turn over their weapons and confess to war crimes will be spared time in jail and the FARC will get 10 seats in congress through to 2026 to smooth their transition into a political movement.
The 65-year-old Mr Santos is the Harvard-educated scion of one of Colombia’s wealthiest families and a former defence minister.