Colombia president awarded one of world’s most prestigious prizes for efforts to end 52 years of war with FARC rebels.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist rebels, a surpise choice after Colombians voted against the accord in a referendum.

The award came despite a shock referendum defeat for a proposed peace deal Santos had reached last month with FARC chief Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timoleon “Timochenko” Jimenez, after nearly four years of talks.

Santos was awarded the prestigious prize “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end”, said Kaci Kullmann Five, chairwoman of the The Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Santos had brought one of the longest civil wars in modern history significantly closer to a peaceful solution but there was still a real danger the peace process could come to a halt.

In a televised address from the Colombian capital Bogota, Santos declared: “I infinitely appreciate this honorable distinction with all my heart.

“I receive it not in my name, but in the name of all Colombians, especially to the millions of victims left by this conflict that we have suffered for more than 50 years. Colombians, this prize is yours.”

Flanked by his wife Maria Clemencia Rodriguez, Santos called on his countrymen to support the peace process, “and start to construct a stable and long lasting peace.”

Mr Santos said on Twitter: “This honourable distinction is not for me, it’s for all the victims of the conflict. Together we’ll win the most important award of them all: peace.”

The peace deal, however, was rejected by 50.2% of voters who went to the polls on 2 October.

The Colombian peace process had been touted as a clear favourite for the prize, but experts suggested that its chances had gone up in smoke after the referendum’s shock result.

Kaci Kullmann Five, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, emphasised Santos’s efforts to advance the peace process following the referendum.

“The fact that a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead,” she said.

“Colombia’s ambassador to Norway, Alvaro Sandoval Bernal, told Norwegian broadcaster TV2, “It reiterates that there is hope for the peace process in Colombia.”