NEW YORK (AFP) - United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon hailed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday (Oct 7), saying it shows the country has come "too far to turn back now".
The decision comes "at a critical moment when this special acknowledgement provides needed hope and encouragement to the Colombian people", the United Nations secretary-general said about Mr Santos' efforts to bring the country's half-century-long civil war with the FARC rebels to an end, despite voters' rejection of a historic peace deal.
Mr Ban called the award "a timely message to all who have toiled so hard for peace - to the government of Colombia, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP)", and to other political and social forces who have expressed a desire to end the conflict.
"The peace process should inspire our world," he said.
Colombia's former leader Alvaro Uribe congratulated his rival, on his Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, despite their sharp disagreement over the winner's efforts to end the country's civil war.
"I congratulate President Santos on the Nobel," Mr Uribe wrote on Twitter, adding that he hoped the prize would encourage "changes" to Mr Santos' proposed peace accord with the rebels.
The leader of Colombia's FARC rebels, Timoleon Jimenez, was notably not named a co-recipient of the Nobel.
The Colombian deal, signed on Sept 26 after nearly four years of talks, was widely expected to be ratified following an Oct 2 referendum before voters shot down the agreement, leaving the country teetering between war and peace.
The conflict has killed more than 260,000 people and left 45,000 missing over five decades, drawing in several leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.