Kenya Nominates Amina Mohamed for WTO Top Job

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Kenya has nominated Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed for the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Ms Mohamed will contest against five other candidates, including two from Africa, to secure the seat that eluded her seven years ago.

The WTO announced on its website that Ms Mohamed's candidature was submitted on July 7 by the Kenyan government. She is seeking to replace Brazilian Robert Azevêdo.

The WTO said the six candidates will now meet with the General Council for an opportunity to make pitches and respond to questions.

Ms Mohamed had contested against Mr Azevêdo in 2013 but lost on a decision made by consensus among member states.

The director-general of the WTO is appointed through consensus, meaning candidates will have to do lots of horse-trading ahead of the decision on August 31.

The WTO, formed in 1995 is a rule-making body that guides international trade and tries to resolves disputes. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland and decisions on cases brought before it are often final, even though it is not a UN organisation.

The contestants include former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Egyptian commercial law academic Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, Mr Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico, Moldova's Tudor Ulianovschi and Ms Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

Ms Mohamed has said in the past she wants to be director-general of the WTO because she already served on the body's key decision making organs.

In 2005, she was Chairperson of the General Council, the highest-level decision making organ of the WTO and which composed of envoys from member states. She said before that she helped steer the WTO to adopt the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips), an international pact that helps poorer nations use technology from richer countries to make useful items like generic drugs, without harming their intellectual property owners.

She also served as head of the Dispute Settlement Body and Trade Policy Review Body. She has argued in the bid submitted to the WTO that she will use her skills in "strategic leadership and effective communication" to make the WTO more responsive to current concerns in international trade.

But her bid may see Nairobi engage in another round of diplomatic pitching. In 2013, she had contested against eight other candidates including one from Ghana.

Some observers think failure to reach consensus with Ghana allowed the Brazilian to triumph over the Kenyan candidate.

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