OSLO — There was no clear frontrunner ahead of Friday's Nobel Peace Prize announcement, with a Russian opposition newspaper, Tunisia's democratic leadership, Pakistan schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and Pope Francis among a record number of candidates.
As in previous years, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, was to reveal the laureate's name at 11:00am (0900 GMT) at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
The Nobel committee considered a record 278 candidates, but only those made public by their sponsors have been named.
The Nobel committee's deliberations continued almost until the last minute and a decision wasn't reached until last week, public broadcaster NRK reported.
The broadcaster, which sometimes but not always has been able to predict the winner, wrote on its website that Tunisia's powerful UGTT workers union and President Moncef Marzouki were among this year's favourites.
"Union can beat out Malala tomorrow," it wrote on its website.
The UGTT was nominated for its role in Tunisia's democratic transition, brokering political negotiations that resulted in a post-revolution constitution being signed.
Marzouki, a secular ally of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, was chosen as president in Tunisia's first election since dictator Zine El Abidine was toppled in 2011.
Pope Francis has become a bookmakers' favourite for speaking out on poverty.
"Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless," the first Latin American pope argued in an exhortation last year.
Experts have cited Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst who revealed the extent of US global eavesdropping, as an outside candidate.
However, most experts say he would be a controversial choice for the 878,000-euro ($1.11-million) award.
Pakistani girls' education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, a favourite last year, is once again being mentioned by observers although many say her young age makes her a somewhat less likely choice for the committee.
It could also increase the terror threat against the 17-year-old, who pushed Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to meet with the parents of hundreds of girls who were kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram.
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 peace group Japanese People Who Conserve Article 9 – which wants to maintain the Asian country's anti-war constitution – in first place.
"We may have come to think of wars between states as virtually extinct after the end of the Cold War, but events in Ukraine and simmering tensions in East Asia remind us they may reappear," he wrote.
Among the other main contenders was favourites were Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, also tipped last year, who has treated female victims of sexual violence for the last 25 years, and the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, who was released from prison by the dictatorship in June. — AFP