OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian Nobel Committee has received 167 nominations for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize according to a preliminary count, 24 fewer than last year and short of a record 199 set in 2005, an official said on Monday.
But Geir Lundestad, head of the Nobel Institute in Oslo and secretary to the secretive, five-member committee which selects the winner, said he expected the number to creep up slightly.
“As of today, the number stands at 167, and 35 of these are organizations,” Lundestad told Reuters. “But this is not the final number because we are still receiving valid nominations.”
Lundestad said he did not expect the number to beat the record set in 2005. He said he would have a final count on February 22, after the committee holds its first meeting of the year.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, a body appointed by parliament, does not reveal the names of nominees for the peace prize which is regarded by many to be the world’s top accolade.
Among this year’s nominees are former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier of Canada, both nominated by Norwegian lawmakers for their efforts to raise awareness about the threat of climate change.
Others announced by backers are Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and U.S. radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The winner is announced in October.
The 2006 peace prize was awarded to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank that he founded for their work to lift millions out of poverty by granting tiny loans.