The Pope, Malala tipped for Nobel Peace Prize

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The race for the Nobel peace prize, to be announced Friday, has rarely been as open or unpredictable, experts say, with the pope, activist Malala Yousafzai and Edward Snowden tipped as possible winners.

The Pakistani girls’ education campaigner Malala Yousafzai – who was also a favourite last year – is also said to be in the running for the 878,000 euro (S$1.4 million) prize, along with Pope Francis for his defence of the poor, and a Japanese pacifist group.

Predicting the winner is even harder than usual this year, as the Nobel committee has received a record 278 candidates, with experts only having the names of those made public by their sponsors to go on.

Here are some of the other popular names to win:

Edward Snowden

Snowden, the former intelligence analyst who revealed the extent of US global eavesdropping, is a hero to some and a traitor to others, and he would be a highly controversial choice for the award.

Last month he shared the “alternative” US$210,000 (S$269,000) Norwegian Right Livelihood Award with The Guardian newspaper and human rights and environmental activists.

But from his exile in Russia, the US fugitive said during a recent press conference that “it is somewhat unlikely that the Nobel committee would back...” him winning the real Nobel.

Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta

Co-founded by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993 with part of his peace prize money, the pro-democracy Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta has been tipped as a possible laureate.

The front page of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta bearing the words "Forgive us, Netherlands" on July 25, a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, carrying 193 Dutch passengers, was allegedly downed by pro-Russian separatists. PHOTOS: AFP

It is one of the few independent media outlets left in Russia and has seen several of its journalists murdered, including Anna Politkovskaya who exposed huge human rights abuses in Chechnya.

Japanese People Who Conserve Article 9

This refers to all who have upheld Japan's anti-war constitution. 

The movement to get it nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize started with an e-mail from a 37-year-old Japanese mum of two, Naomi Taksu, to the Nobel committee last year. 

That led to a petition which garnered 24,000 signatures, but the nominated was denied, because the prize is meant for people or organisations, and not a text.

This year, Takasu amended the nomination to refer to the Japanese people who are upholding the constitution. 

Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), a leading peace prize analyst and one of the few to publish a shortlist, put the group in first place ahead of Malala.

But, a website run by leading Norwegian Nobel historians ranked Malala – who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 – as their top candidate ahead of Snowden, for her fight for girls’ right to an education around the world.

Sources: AFP, The Japan Times

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