AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
THE African Union (AU) has come out strongly in support of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose appointment as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been supported by the majority of WTO member states.
Nigerian Dr Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as the only candidate proposed for endorsement by the WTO general council on November 9. If elected, she will become the first African to hold the post.
However, the US has opposed the appointment of the former finance minister of Nigeria and an executive at the World Bank.
AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa said the AU stood behind Okonjo-Iweala. “The AU is deeply appreciative of the supportive comments by member states on Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s excellent qualifications for the post. The AU trusts that, in the same spirit, nothing will stand in the way of the WTO making the right decision for the organisation. At a time when the credibility of the WTO is sorely tested, it is important that the organisation honours its own rules and procedures. The African Union reiterates its support for Dr Okonjo-Iweala,” Ramaphosa said.
The AU chairperson, who is also president of South Africa, commended all WTO member states for following an agreed fair, robust and transparent process in the election of the next Director-General of the WTO.
He said the process, led by the Chair of the General Council assisted by two others to comprise a Troika, has been followed meticulously. The Troika executed its task with diligence and fairness, allowing all member states to participate and express themselves fully on the candidates, he added.
“Thus far member states have accepted the recommendations of the Troika at each stage of the process. This has brought us to the point where, at the consultation meeting of the General Council held on 28 October 2020, the Chair of the General Council on behalf of the Troika reported that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as the only candidate proposed for endorsement by the General Council on 9 November 2020.The AU is deeply appreciative of the supportive comments by member states on Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s excellent qualifications for the post. The AU trusts that, in the same spirit, nothing will stand in the way of the WTO making the right decision for the organisation,” Ramaphosa said.
WTO general council chairperson David Walker of New Zealand has told the organization’s members on 28 October that based on their consultations with all delegations the candidate best poised to attain consensus and become the 7th Director-General was Okonjo-Iweala.
“She clearly carried the largest support by Members in the final round and she clearly enjoyed broad support from Members from all levels of development and all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process. I am therefore submitting the name of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommending her appointment by the General Council as the next Director-General of the WTO until 31 August 2024,” Walker said.