Okonjo-Iweala: Former Minister scales first round of screening in race for WTO presidency

Okonjo-Iweala: Former Minister scales first round of screening in race for WTO presidency

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate aspiring to the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has won the first run of elections and has àlong with four others advanced to the second phase.

Besides Okonjo-Iweala, other contestants, who are from Kenya, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, on Friday advanced to the next round of voting after six days of confidential consultation with members.

Amb. David Walker, Chair of the WTO General Council in a briefing on the outcome of the election told the Head of Delegation meeting that the entire organisation’s membership was committed and fully engaged in the consultation process.

“Throughout the six days of consultations, it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process.

“Members consider all the candidates highly qualified and respected individuals.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they, their delegations and their governments have conducted themselves in this process.

“Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated; and the organisation is also in their debt,” Walker said.

1st reports that during the consultations, Walker alongside his co-facilitators in the election process, posed to each delegation one question: “What are your preferences?”

Members then submitted four preferences to the “troika” of ambassadors.

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The facilitators are Amb. Dacio Castillo, Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Harald Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body.

The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision.

Based on the guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.

Walker said that the second phase of the consultations would begin on Sept. 24 and end on Oct. 6.

The General Council had agreed on July 31 that there would be three stages of consultations; held over a two-month period beginning Sept. 7.

During the two-month period, the number of candidates would be reduced from eight to five and then to two; before a consensus is reached on which of the candidates would become the WTO director-general.

The four contestants, who alongside Okonjo-Iweala scaled through the first round are: Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea; Amina Mohamed of Kenya; Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and Liam Fox of the UK.

With Egypt out of the contest, Okonjo-Iweala is now the only representative of the African Union (AU); in the race as Mohammed of Kenya never applied through the AU and as such not recognized by the body.

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