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Teenager Malala Yousafzai favorite for Nobel Peace Price

Teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai is firming as favorite to win the Nobel Peace Prize. An announcement on this year’s laureate is just hours away.

Malala, at 16, is in line to become the award's youngest winner, but faces competition from Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons among 258 other nominees.

The winner's name will be announced on Friday at the Nobel Institute in Oslo at 11 a.m. (9 a.m. UTC) by the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland.

Malala has leapt to the top of favoritism with both betting sites and experts, but little has been given away ahead of the announcement.

"It's always difficult to make the right choice but the Nobel Committee had no trouble reaching an agreement this year," Jagland told AFP.

Malala was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban in October 9 for speaking out against them and advocating the rights of girls to go to school. After a remarkable recovery in Britain, the teenager has written an autobiography, made an address to the United Nations and set up the Malala Fund.

Now based in Britain, she won the Sakharov human rights prize from the European Parliament on Thursday.

"If I got the Nobel Peace Prize I think it would be such a great honor and more than I deserve," she said in a speech in New York on Thursday. "The Nobel Peace Prize would help me to begin this campaign for girls' education."

Mukwege leads other candidates

Fellow favorite Mukwege has been nominated for his work in setting up a hospital and foundation for thousands of women raped by local and foreign militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human rights activists Ales Belyatski (of Belarus) and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Svetlana Gannushkina and Lilia Shibanova (all Russian) are other names to have featured in speculation.

The Hague-based OPCW, which will be responsible for supervising the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, is also considered a serious contender. It is one of 50 organizations in the running for the prize.

That outcome would make it the second-straight year the Nobel Committee had awarded the prize to an organization, with the European Union announced as laureate in 2012 for their work in bringing about reconciliation and integration in Europe.

ph/av (AFP, Reuters)