The legal department of the African Union (AU) has said that the nomination of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) contravenes laid down procedures.
The executive council during its 35th ordinary session in Niamey, Niger had directed that member Nations should present candidates to the AU ministerial committee on candidature by November 30, 2019.
This was with the view to endorse a consensus candidate at the ordinary session in February, 2020.
It said three countries had sent in their nominations, Nigeria inclusive.
The candidates are: Eloi Laourou (Benin), Abdulhameed Mamdouh (Egypt) and Yunov Agah (Nigeria).
President Muhammadu Buhari had, nominated Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to replace Yunov Agah as Nigeria’s candidate.
During the February 2020 summit, the three candidates were considered.
The legal counsel further stated that, “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 concluded by saying “candidate submission could only be accepted after deadline if, no other candidature for the position have been submitted in The submission of candidature had closed, hence Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination is null and void.
It would be recalled that, Egypt had protested the nomination of Okonjo-Iweala and had asked the legal department of the AU to declare its candidate Abdulhameed Mamdouh and Eloi Laourou of Benin republic as the only endorsed African candidates.
Benin republic had however, withdrawn its candidate and pledged support for Okonjo-Iweala.
However, while the legal counsel of AU faults her nomination, the WTO has named Okonjo-Iweala among the candidates whose nominations have been accepted to vie for the post of Director General.