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20 October 2017 14:32 (South Africa)

Surprise Nobel for Obama stirs praise as well as some doubts

norse nobel committee 01

Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is triggering praise and puzzlement, and Republican opposition is searching for a way to respond. To some analysts, it seems a prayer by the Nobel committee for international leadership. But the selection committee stressed it came from Obama’s efforts toward nuclear disarmament and American engagement with the world. “The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” said the chairman. Obama said, “To be honest, I do not feel I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honoured by this prize.” But, he would “accept this award as a call to action”. Republicans initially sought to portray Obama as unworthy. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, “The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ ” But French president Nicholas Sarkozy said it marked “America’s return to the hearts of the world’s peoples,” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was an “incentive to the president and to us all.” Ahmed Youssef of Hamas congratulated Obama, but said the prize was based only on good intentions.

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