View Full Version : Nobel prize season kicks off, Peace Prize seen going to Ahtisaari

Khaleej Times
29-09-06, 12:06
Nobel prize season kicks off Monday with Medicine Prize

29 September 2006

STOCKHOLM -The 2006 Nobel prize season kicks off on Monday with the announcement of the Medicine Prize, with the coveted Peace Prize seen going to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and Amos Oz and Philip Roth tipped for the Literature Prize.

The Nobel committees remain tight-lipped on their leanings in the run-up to the announcements, prompting wild speculation about who will be this year’s lucky winners.

For the Peace Prize, to be announced in Oslo on October 13, a total of 191 individuals and organisations are known to have been nominated.

Among the possible winners are believed to be China’s Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of the Uighur ethnic group, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his role in talks leading to an August 2005 peace deal for the Aceh province.

But Ahtisaari, president of Finland between 1994 and 2000, has been nominated several times in recent years and appears to be leading this year’s pack.

He oversaw talks last year in Helsinki that led to the peace agreement between the Indonesian government and rebels in the Aceh province, which put an end to a three-decade conflict that killed some 15,000 people.

‘I think that Ahtisaari is the clear favorite this year due to his work in Aceh,’ said Stein Toennesson, head of the Oslo Peace Research Institute (PRIO).

Other possibilities include Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do, currently under house arrest, for his work in promoting democracy and freedom of expression, as well as Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and rock star Bob Geldof for his fight against poverty.

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell has also been mentioned for his work to establish peace in Sudan, as well as the Tiananmen Mothers for their fight for democracy in China.

Last year the prize went to the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA and its director general Mohammed ElBaradei.

For the Literature Prize, to be announced on either October 5 or October 12, a plethora of names have circulated in Stockholm’s literary circles, among them US novelist Philip Roth, Syrian poet Adonis and Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa.

‘The only thing that has been very clear, explicitly, is that witness literature is well-placed,’ Jonas Axelsson, an editor at Bonnier, one of Sweden’s biggest publishing houses, told AFP, describing the genre as ‘literature that has witnessed reality’.

Israeli author Amos Oz would thus ‘be very appropriate’.

Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy which awards the prize, is known to be fond of the genre, having organized a symposium on witness literature in 2001 to mark the centenary of the first Nobel prizes.

And the 2002 and 2003 literature prizes went to writers in that style, Hungary’s Imre Kertesz and J.M. Coetzee of South Africa.

Czech writer Milan Kundera, US novelist Joyce Carol Oates, Polish literary journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski and Turkish author Orhan Pamuk have also been cited as possible winners, as have French novelist J.-M. G. Le Clezio, Algeria’s Assia Djebar and Doris Lessing of Britain.

Meanwhile, online betting site Ladbrokes gives Pamuk the best odds, at 3-to-1.

Last year, the honours went to British playwright Harold Pinter.

Before attention turns to peace and literature, science prizes open the proceedings, with the award for physiology or medicine announced on Monday, physics on Tuesday and chemistry on Wednesday, and the prize for economics the following Monday.

Few bother to speculate on possible winners in these fields, but the US tends to take home the lion’s share of the awards thanks to unrivalled funding for research at US universities and institutes.

The Nobel prizes, founded by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, were first awarded in 1901.

Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, died childless in 1896, dedicating his vast fortune to create ‘prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’.

Laureates receive a gold medal, a diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor (1.37 million dollars, 1.07 million euros) which can be split between up to three winners per prize.