197 Peace prize contenders this year: Nobel Institute
Friday, 29 February 2008

Agence France-Presse . Oslo

A total of 197 candidates are in the running for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Institute said on Wednesday, with the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ex-German chancellor Helmut Kohl and Esperanto known to be on the list.

'This is the second-highest number in the history of the Nobel' Peace Prize, Geir Lundestad, the head of the Nobel Institute, said, recalling there were 199 nominees in 2005.

The list of candidates for 2008 comprises 33 organisations and 164 individuals, Lundestad said. The names of the nominees are kept secret by the institute for 50 years.

But those who are entitled to nominate are allowed to reveal the name of the person or organisation they have proposed if they wish. As a result, nominees already known to be on the list include Bouteflika, proposed by Algerian members of parliament and ministers, and Kohl, put forward by ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who himself won the prestigious prize in 1990.

Gorbachev has nominated Kohl for the role he played in bringing a peaceful end to the Cold War and promoting European reconciliation. On a lighter note, two Swiss politicians have also nominated Esperanto, seen as a language of peace and hope and devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication.

Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations, including members of parliament and government worldwide, university professors, previous laureates and members of several international institutes. According to Lundestad, nominations reflect only the views of those who propose the candidates and not those of the institute.

The name of the winner will be announced in early October, and the award will be presented at a formal ceremony held as tradition dictates on December 10. Last year, former US vice president Al Gore and the UN's top climate change panel IPCC were jointly honoured for their efforts to raise awareness about climate change.

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