Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate aspiring to the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation, has won the first run of election and has along with four others advanced to the second phase.
The 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.
Ambassador 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.
Walker said: “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 in their debt.”
The News Agency of Nigeria 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.
The facilitators are Ambassador Dacio Castillo, Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Ambassador 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 the second phase of the consultations would begin on September 24 and end on October 6.
He said: “During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences to the facilitators with a view to bringing the number of candidates from five to two.
“Following this process, I will call another Heads of Delegations meeting at which the results will be announced to the WTO membership.
“The timetable for the third and final round of consultations will be announced at that time.”
According to Walker, the objective of the measure and clearly defined process is to secure a consensus decision by members on the next director general.
The General Council had agreed on July 31 that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period beginning September 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 in the race as Mohammed of Kenya never applied through the AU and as such not recognised by the body.