No clear candidates for Nobel prize

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee won’t even disclose nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize that it awards every year, much less hint at a list of finalists. It has admitted, though, that this year’s competition remains wide open.

The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced next Friday, October 9. With just over a week to go, however, the committee’s secretary confirms that no decision on a winner has yet been made.

The committee announced earlier this year that it had received 205 nominations by the deadline, a new record. The last record was set in 2005, with 199 nominations.

Included among the 205 nominations this year are 33 organizations. Although the committee doesn’t identify any nominees, it’s expected that several are perennial Peace Prize candidates, such as the Salvation Army.

Committee members, appointed by the Norwegian Parliament under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, have been sorting through the nominations ever since the deadline last spring. The new head of the committee, former Prime Minister and president of the Norwegian Parliament Thorbjørn Jagland, said just after winning hisnew appointment as head of the Council of Europethis week that he needed to travel home to Norway on Peace Prize business.

Kristian Berg Harpviken director at the Institute for Peace Research, has come up with three candidates, according to newspaper Aftenposten : Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba, Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan and Sima Samar, a UN special envoy to Darfur.

Other speculation has landed on Inge Genefke, a Danish doctor who set up an international network for torture victims; Ribiya Kadeer, who has fought for the rights of the Uighur people in China; and Thich Quang Do, who won a Rafto Prize as one of Vietnam’s most prominent defenders of democracy, religious freedom and human rights.

The Nobel Committe announced, meanwhile, that the annual Nobel Concert held the evening after the prize is awarded on December 10, will be hosted this year by the actor couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. “Together they’ve had global influence on art and philanthropy, and will be excellent ambassadors for peace,” said committee secretary Geir Lundestad.

Other artists performing at the concert include Wyclef Jean, Toby Keith and Donna Summer.