News24

Nobel head defends Obama choice

2009-10-10 22:19

Oslo - The head of the Nobel Peace Prize committee on Saturday defended the controversial decision to give the award to US President Barack Obama, saying his work so far justified the honour.

"He could have also had it too late," Thorbjoern Jagland told reporters.

"Can someone tell me who did more than him this year? It is difficult to name a winner of the peace prize who is more in line with Alfred Nobel's will."

Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister, said: "We are capturing the spirit of the times, the needs of the era."

He and the committee's four other members caused shockwaves on Friday by announcing that Obama had won the Nobel, praising his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The committee attached "special importance to Obama's vision and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

The award for the first black US president sparked both praise and criticism, with many saying he has not yet done enough to deserve it.

Obama himself, saying he was "surprised" and "deeply humbled", said he doubted he deserved the honour.

The leader of Norway's main opposition called Saturday for Jagland's resignation, a newspaper reported.

Siv Jensen, head of the far-right Progress Party, said Jagland should step down because his new job as secretary general of the Council of Europe compromised his independence.

Erna Solberg, leader of Conservative party Hoejre, also criticised Jagland's attempt to do two jobs and questioned his decision to hand Obama the peace prize.

The Nobel committee's five members are appointed by Parliament.