OSLO — The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced Friday amid a record 205 nominees and no clear favourite, though Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is seen as a real possibility.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo is to reveal its choice at 11:00 am (0900 GMT).
Observers have suggested there is no obvious candidate for the coveted prize this year as no major conflicts have been resolved by peaceful means in the past year.
According to Norwegian public television NRK, which is usually well-informed, the award is expected to go to "an individual, not an organisation," which would shorten the list of possible winners to 172.
Among those cited by NRK Thursday was Zimbabwe's Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Will the Peace Prize go to Tsvangirai?," NRK's website read late Thursday.
The former trade union activist and opposition leader, who vowed for years to bring an end to President Robert "Mugabe's dictatorship" in the once-flourishing southern African country, has served as prime minister in a national unity government with Mugabe since February 2009.
Other possible laureates mentioned were jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba who has campaigned for a peaceful solution to the almost 50-year-old conflict in her country, and Afghan doctor and women's rights activist Sima Samar.
French-Colombian ex-hostage Ingrid Betancourt and Jordan's Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad Bin Talal, an advocate of inter-religious dialogue, have also been seen as possible winners.
"There are a lot of good candidates," the secretary of the Nobel Committee, Geir Lundestad, told AFP last week.
Over the years, the committee has stretched the scope of the Peace Prize to include unconventional areas like environmentalism, the fight against climate change and poverty.
This year, international affairs experts say they expect a more traditional winner.
"We have to move away from the traditional concept of peace but at the same time they can't give the Peace Prize to all the good causes on the planet," said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and one of the mediators of the Oslo Accords between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Among other names that have circulated in the run-up to the announcement are Vietnamese Buddhist monk and democracy advocate Thich Quang Do, Chechen human rights lawyer Lidiya Yusupova, and Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina.
Should NRK be wrong in its prediction about the prize not going to an organisation, efforts to wipe out cluster bombs, which cause particular damage to civilians, could be honoured.
Possible laureates were seen as the Cluster Munitions Coalition or the humanitarian organisation Handicap International.
Last year, the Peace Prize, which consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque worth 10 million Swedish kronor (1.42 million dollars, 980,000 euros), went to Finnish mediator and former president Martti Ahtisaari.
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