Salvation Army is tipped to win Nobel peace prize

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The Independent Online
Speculation was increasing in Norway last night that this year's Nobel peace prize would be awarded to the Salvation Army, Britain's largest provider of charity welfare.

Despite the nomination of Nelson Mandela and President F W de Klerk, rumoured leaks from the peace prize committee suggest that the charity may emerge as the surprise winner. The Salvation Army has been nominated for its work in 99 countries for the past three years and was rumoured last year to have missed the award by one vote. Five academics and former politicians appointed by the Norwegian parliament form the voting committee.

Geir Helljesen, a Norwegian television reporter with a reputation for predicting the result, said the charity would win. His view was reinforced when Kare Kristensen, a committee member, said the winner was 'non-controversial'; often taken to mean that an organisation has won. However, some observers argue that few would view Nelson Mandela as a controversial winner.

Last night, Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the peace prize committee, was characteristically silent over the name of the winner, which will be announced in Oslo at 11 am today. 'It is true that Mr Helljesen has a good record in predicting the winner but he spends a lot of time studying the committee, so I hope his success is down to good judgement rather than leaks,' he said.

'I saw the programme on which he mentioned the Salvation Army and I thought he rather hedged his bets. He actually named several people as well.

'He does like to propagate the rumour that he always gets it right, but I have seen him over the years, with half an hour to go before the announcement, pacing up and down the corridors with a worried look on his face.'

The International Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres have also been nominated and there were last-minute attempts to put Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, into the arena. Most observers believe Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk remain favourites.