Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 11:42 UK

Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize

Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been won by peace negotiator Martti Ahtisaari, the Nobel Foundation has announced in Norway's capital, Oslo.

Finland's ex-president has been a UN mediator on Kosovo, helped end the conflict in Indonesia's Aceh province and aided Namibia's independence.

Mr Ahtisaari told Norwegian broadcaster NRK he was "very pleased and grateful" to receive the award.

The laureate wins a gold medal, diploma and 10m Swedish kronor ($1.4m).

The winners were chosen by a secretive five-member Norwegian awards committee from 197 nominations this year.

Namibian agreement

The Nobel committee commended Mr Ahtisaari, 71, "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts".

2005: Helps end 30 years of fighting between Aceh rebels and the Indonesian government
2002 onwards: UN special envoy for the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa
2001: Arms inspector in Northern Ireland conflict
1999: Helps bring end to conflict in Kosovo and in 2005 is appointed UN special envoy for final status talks
1990: Heads UN operation that brings independence to Namibia

The citation continued: "He has figured prominently in endeavours to resolve several serious and long-lasting conflicts," mentioning his roles in Namibia, Aceh, Kosovo and Iraq.

"He has also made constructive contributions to the resolution of conflicts in Northern Ireland, in Central Asia and on the Horn of Africa," it said.

The committee's Ole Danbolt Mjoes said: "These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit."

Mr Ahtisaari, who served as Finnish president from 1994-2000, told NRK he thought his biggest achievement was in Namibia.

Martti Ahtisaari reacts to winning the Nobel Peace Prize

"It was absolutely the most important because it took such a long time," he said.

Mr Ahtisaari helped supervise the move to independence from South Africa in the late 70s and supervised framing free and fair elections. Namibia made him an honorary citizen.

Mr Ahtisaari said he hoped the prize money would help finance the organisations he chaired.

"It's very important to be able to act properly, you need financing and you never have enough."

2007: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Al Gore
2002: Jimmy Carter
2001: UN, Kofi Annan
1994: Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin
1993: Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi
1990: Mikhail Gorbachev
1989: Dalai Lama

Mr Ahtisaari will receive the prize in Oslo on 10 December, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the awards' founder, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.

In keeping with tradition, no candidates were named ahead of Friday's announcement.

But those said to be in the frame included Zimbabwean politician Morgan Tsvangirai and freed French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Chinese dissidents Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng were also leading contenders, prompting Beijing to issue a veiled warning that the prize should go to the "right person".

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