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AU denies endorsing Egyptian candidate Mamdouh for WTO top job

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CONTRARY to widely-shared belief, the African Union (AU) has disclosed that it is yet to pick a consensus candidate for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General position, denying the claim that it was throwing its weight behind Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, the Egyptian candidate.

In a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria( NAN) on Tuesday, the AU said it was yet to endorse any of the three candidates from the African continent.

“As at present there is no African- Union endorsed candidate for this post,” the statement read.

Mamdouh, a trade lawyer and a former senior official of the global trade body, during a conference held in Geneva said he had been endorsed by the Union, registering an upper hand against the other African contenders – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya.

According to the AU Commission, the ministerial committee saddled with the responsibility of selecting a consensus candidate failed to meet on three scheduled occasions due to varying circumstances and thus, was unable to agree on who to support for the elections.

NAN also reports that the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN in a letter to the WTO, said the process of selecting and endorsing a single candidate for the DG post was still ongoing.

“This has put to rest claims that the a particular candidate has been endorsed by the AU, therefore rendering other African candidates illegitimate,” the letter read in part.

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The WTO elections are happening a year earlier than expected due to the premature resignation of the current DG, Roberto Azevedo , who is set to step down on August 31.

Eight candidates from five continents, including Africa, are vying for the top managerial position.

In an earlier report, The ICIR considered the odds against Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala, who made her individual presentations to the WTO Council on Wednesday, July 15.

If appointed, she would become the first woman and African to lead the most  influential global trading organisation.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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