In a statement on Tuesday in Bern, the AU said: “As at present there is no African Union endorsed candidate for this post.”
The three candidates from Africa vying for the WTO top job are Nigeria’s former Finance Minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Kenya’s Mrs Amina Mohamed and Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh.
Other candidates are from the UK, Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Mexico.
It said that the AU Commission, under the guidance of its ministerial committee had made concerted efforts towards the endorsement of a single candidate for the WTO Director-General post.
However, due to circumstances beyond its control, the committee couldn’t meet on three scheduled dates and that’s way it’s yet to decide on a consensus candidate.
The statement therefore has contradicted claims by Mamdouh, Egypt’s candidate, who at a news conference in Geneva, said he had been endorsed by the African Union.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva also disputed Mamdouh’s claims.
In a letter to WTO, the Mission said that the process of deciding and endorsing a single candidate for the Director General 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 Mission stated.
The candidates had made individual presentations to the WTO Council, which held from July 15 to July 17 at the kickoff of the selection process.
The second phase of the selection process, in which candidates would make themselves known to members will end on September 7. Similarly, the third phase, which is the consultation process would commence same day.
At the forthcoming consultation, the Chairman of the General Council alongside Chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body would consult with all WTO members to determine which candidate is best placed to attract a consensus support.