Nobel guessing game at fever pitch

Nobel guessing game at fever pitch

Stockholm: The Nobel Prize season opens on Monday with the announcement of the Medicine Prize and but the field is still wide open for the prestigious Peace Prize.

The award committees remain tight-lipped about the nominees ahead of the announcements, and, as usual, speculation has reached fever pitch about possible laureates.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee said last week it had still not made its choice among the record 205 candidates this year. The winner is to be disclosed in Oslo on 9 October.

The committee will meet twice before Friday. “There are a lot of good candidates," the influential committee secretary, Geir Lundestad, told AFP.

The absence of a clear favourite has made the guessing game more complex than usual, but experts seem to be in agreement that the committee will probably select a “traditional" winner.

In recent years, the committee has occasionally stretched the scope of the prize to include unconventional areas such as environmentalism and the fight against climate change.

“The Nobel committee is under a certain amount of pressure to return to a classical interpretation of peace," the head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Jan Egeland. Last year, the award went to Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland and conflict troubleshooter. The names of US and French presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy are known to be on the list this year, as is French-Colombian ex-hostage Ingrid Betancourt, but that is no indication they are well-placed to win.

Another person known to be on the list is Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which helps hundreds of thousands of women victims of sexual violence.

Efforts to wipe out cluster bombs could also be honoured, with possible laureates seen as the Cluster Munitions Coalition or the humanitarian organization Handicap International.