Report: AU legal counsel says WTO Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violates continental rules - Uju Ayalogu's Blog for News, Reviews, Articles and More

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Report: AU legal counsel says WTO Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violates continental rules

Report: AU legal counsel says WTO Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination violates continental rules

The office of the legal counsel at the African Union says Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination to contest for the position of World Trade Organisation director-general violates its rules, Premium Times is reporting.

The newspaper, on Thursday, quoted a June 15 letter addressed to the permanent mission of the Republic of Nigeria to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

The counsel said the executive council during its 35th ordinary session that held in Niamey, Niger, had asked member countries to present candidates to the AU ministerial committee on candidature by November 30, 2019, to allow it endorse a consensus candidate at its February 2020 ordinary session.

He said three countries presented their candidates; Eloi Laourou (Benin), Abdulhameed Mamdouh (Egypt) and Yunov Agah (Nigeria).

“During the February 2020 summit, the three candidates were considered,” the letter read.

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“However, due to the lack of consensus to agree on one suitable candidate during the February 2020 summit, the executive council through decision Ex Cl 1090 (XXXVI) recalled the Ex Cl Dec 10T2 (XXXV) and endorsed respectively the candidates from Benin, Egypt and Nigeria as shortlisted for the post of the director-general of the WTO (the names of the candidates were incorporated in the report of the committee on international candidatures presented to the executive council).

“Moreover, it requested the ministerial committee on African candidatures within the international system to consider the matter and report to the executive council’s 3rd ordinary session with a view to agreeing on a single candidate.”

The office of the legal counsel also argued that the submission of candidates had to follow certain conditions which were listed as:

“All candidatures shall be submitted to the committee, through the AU commission (the political affairs department). The political affairs department should acknowledge receipt containing the date and the stamp of submission,” it said.

“Candidatures shall be submitted to the commission at least two (2) months prior to the sessions of the executive council, which shall consider them. The submission shall be accompanied by relevant information related to the submitted candidatures, including the nature of each post, date and place of elections.”

It said the condition on which candidate submission may be accepted after the deadline is when “no other candidatures for the position have been submitted in the prescribed time; the submission of candidatures has been closed; and there are more vacancies reserved for Africa than the submissions received, among others”.

The counsel, therefore, said it has taken a position that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination was against laid-down rules.

President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Okonjo-Iweala, a former managing director (operations) at the World Bank, for the position on June 4, 2020, to replace Yunov Agah as Nigeria’s candidate.

After the nomination, TheCable reported that Egypt kicked against the nomination and asked the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union to declare that its candidate, Abdulhameed Mamdouh, and Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin were the “only two endorsed African candidates”.

The WTO, however, announced on June 9 that it had accepted Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination adding that candidate submission closes on July 8, 2020.

The Republic of Benin announced on June 14 that it has withdrawn its candidate and pledged support for Okonjo-Iweala.

Okonjo-Iweala sits on the board of Twitter and currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)

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