Near-record in Nobel Peace Prize for 2006: 191 nominations

A near-record 191 Nobel Peace Prize nominations were made for 2006, including a Finnish peace mediator, Indonesia 's president, two Irish rock stars and a former U.S. Secretary of State. The five-member Norwegian awards committee keeps the nomination list secret for 50 years, and will only give the number, this year 168 individuals and 23 organizations. The committee gives no hints.

"That is the second highest number of nominations ever," said the committee's nonvoting secretary Geir Lundestad said Friday. "We can't have a record every year, but it does indicate strong interest." Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency and its leader Mohamed ElBaradei were picked from a record 199 nomination for their efforts to save humanity from nuclear weapons. Thousands of people have the right to send nominations rights, which must be postmarked by Feb. 1. Some announce their choice.

This year, announced nominations include former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for a helping secure a peace deal in the Aceh conflict. Both were seen as front runners in earlier speculation.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was nominated for his effort to end Sudan 's civil war. Bob Geldof, the former leader of Irish punk group the Boomtown Rats, was nominated for organizing last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, while another Irish singer, U2 frontman Bono, was proposed for his efforts to relieve poverty.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman were nominated by a Swedish lawmaker. The award is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo , and the other Nobel Prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm , reports the AP.

N.U.