Colombian president receives 'Catholic Nobel' for FARC deal

Colombian president receives 'Catholic Nobel' for FARC deal

Rome (AFP) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday received the Lampara peace prize, the "Catholic Nobel", for his efforts to reach a deal with his country's Marxist FARC rebels.

The award, handed over in the Italian city of Assisi, comes a week after Santos received the actual Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, in recognition of his work to end the half-century conflict that has claimed more than 260,000 lives.

"I wanted to be an instrument of peace for my country, and there have been many instruments of peace among those who have joined me in this work," he said after receiving the lamp of Saint Francis, a symbol of peace for Roman Catholics.

"Today I want to ask Saint Francis to continue to inspire us so that this peace we have agreed can be felt in every Colombian town, village and family."

His visit to Assisi came a day after Pope Francis brought him together with his predecessor as Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, at the Vatican.

Uribe led opposition to the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ratified last month after an earlier version was voted down in a referendum in October.

The former president and his allies argue the deal grants impunity to rebels guilty of war crimes, giving them seats in parliament instead of sending them to prison.

After voters rejected the initial deal by a narrow margin, the government and FARC renegotiated it, deciding to have it ratified in Congress rather than risk a second referendum.