09242017Headline:

2016 Nobel Peace Prize announcement awaited – who’s in the running?

The Nobel Peace Prize, arguably the world's most prestigious award, is due to be awarded in Norway on Friday morning. Among those rumored as possible winners are people linked to the Syrian crisis and Pope Francis.

The announcement is due to be made at 11 a.m. CEST (5 a.m. ET) at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, where dozens of journalists are waiting for the announcement by Kaci Kullmann Five, the Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

This year, the Committee had 376 nominations to choose from, which is by far the highest ever number of candidates. Among those nominated are 228 individuals and 148 organizations, but the list itself remains a secret for 50 years.

Nonetheless, those who are eligible to nominate candidates sometimes reveal their choices, and prize-guessers also try to predict a possible winner.

Among those seen as possible winners are Pope Francis, who has spoken out on various issues that are controversial within the church, and the Syrian White Helmets, which is a group of rescue volunteers who have helped save thousands of civilians during the ongoing civil war.

Other potential winners linked to the Syrian crisis include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has played a central role in welcoming Syrian refugees, and Greek islanders who stepped in to help the many thousands of refugees that have arrived there.

Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist who has treated tens of thousands of rape victims at his hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is also among those nominated, as well as American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who exposed the scale of the U.S. government's surveillance on phone and internet communications.

There has also been speculation that the prize could go to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez for their efforts to end the Colombian conflict that has been ongoing for decades, but such a decision appears unlikely now that voters have rejected the final agreement in a nationwide referendum.

Another possibility is for the prize to be awarded to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, for their crucial role in reaching a deal between Iran and world powers to contain the country's nuclear program.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian democracy group the National Dialogue Quarter, which was credited for its role in building a pluralistic democracy after the country's revolution, which was the most successful Arab Spring movement.

The foundation for the Nobel prizes were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, wrote his last will and dedicated much of his wealth to the establishment of the awards, which honor people for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The first prizes were awarded in 1901, several years after Nobel's death.

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