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Peace Nobel for Ahtisaari

Oslo, October 10
Finland's former President Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize today for a decades-long career of peacemaking around the world, from Namibia to Kosovo.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee chose Ahtisaari to receive the $1.4 million prize from 197 candidates "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts."

"These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit," the award committee said in its citation, adding it hoped the prize would inspire other peacemakers around the world.

Ahtisaari, 71, who was Finland's President from 1994 to 2000, has for years been a favourite to win what many deem the world's top accolade.

"No one better than he could win the Nobel Peace Prize," said former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "He is the only man I know who has made peace on three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe, and I always found him ready to answer the call to make this world a better place."

In 2005, Ahtisaari brokered peace between Indonesia and the rebels in the Aceh province to end 30 years of fighting. Until March last year he led Serb-Albanian talks on Kosovo as UN envoy.

He was architect of a European Union-backed plan for Kosovo's independence from Serbia which guaranteed Serb minority rights and was implemented bloodlessly after the wars that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

"In 1989-90 he played a significant part in the establishment of Namibia's independence," the committee said.

"In 2005 he and his organisation Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) were central to the solution of the complicated Aceh question in Indonesia." Reuters

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