Peace Prize guessing game soon over

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Speculation was running high in Norway Friday morning over who would win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Zimbabwe’s long-struggling prime minister, a member of the Jordanian royal family and a senator in Colombia were all tipped as strong candidates. The award will be announced at 11am.

There have been years when the Norwegian Nobel Committee, charged with selecting a worthy candidate for the Peace Prize, didn’t make an award. There were no prizes awarded during World War II, for example, or in several years after the war, including 1995 and 1956, 1966 and 1967 and as late as 1972.

Even though the committee reportedly has taken a long time to discuss candidates this year, it’s unlikely no winner will be announced. Thorbjørn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who just was elected to head the Council of Europe, will make his debut as leader of the Nobel Committee and he clearly wants to get off to a good start. There’s also a lot at stake regarding the Peace Prize, including income from the Nobel Concert that’s become a major event, along with countless other arrangements.

“Today it’s quite unthinkable that no Peace Prize would be handed out,” Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute, told newspaper Aftenposten . “There are enormous expectations tied to the prize … it would be considered a signal that the world was on the verge of war if no one was singled out to lead the way.”

Among those whose names have popped up in speculation this year are Morgan Tsvangarai, the embattled opposition politician in Zimbabwe who has fought hard for democracy and finally got authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe to accept him as prime minister; Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, who has fought for peace in the troubled country and Ghazi bin Muhammad, a member of the Jordanian royal family who has worked for dialogue among various religions in the Middle East.

Other perennial candidates are Rebiya Kadeer, who has led a struggle for ethnic rights among the Uyighur people of western China and Thich Quang Do of Vietnam.