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ECOWAS endorses Okonjo-Iweala for WTO DG

 

T

he Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has endorsed Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

This is contained in a statement signed by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, on behalf of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

 

 

Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy had been nominated for the top job by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

The ECOWAS leaders “acknowledged the strong academic and professional background of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and her very large experience in national affairs as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister briefly in 2006.”

 

 

They said their endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature is conditioned on her academic and over 30 years of experience as a Development Economist.

The leaders also called on other African and non-African States to support the former minister.

 

They noted that: “Since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995, which is a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established on 1 January 1948, no African has assumed the position of Director-General of the Organization.”

 

The nomination has been commended by top officials, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian Pesident.

 

The Republic of Benin had earlier withdrawn its candidate from the race and pledged support for Okonjo-Iweala.

 

 

The nomination of Okonjo-Iweala triggered some controversy after the office of the legal counsel of the African Union (AU) said that her nomination for the WTO position violates the rules of the AU.

 

The Nigerian embassy and permanent mission to the African Union (AU) has, however, said that claims that Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination contravenes laid-down rules were unguarded and failed all parameters of objectivity and unbiased submission.

 

Meanwhile, the WTO had confirmed that Okonjo-Iweala is still eligible to run for the office of director-general.

 

Nominations for the job are expected to close on July 8 following which candidates will be invited to meet with WTO Council members at a special General Council meeting.

 

 

The successful candidate will succeed the current Director-General, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced that he will step down on August 31.

 

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