Kenya: Athletics Legends Pace Amina's Big WTO Race

27 September 2020

With the race in Geneva down to the wire, Kenya's athletics legends have drummed up support for Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed's bid for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general's position.

Amina is among five candidates in the running for the top seat in the global trade body which has been vacated by Roberto Azevedo who stepped down prematurely.

No woman and no African has held the prestigious seat, and, now, there are three women in the list of five candidates still in the running.

There have been calls for an African to finally get a shot at running the organisation, which since its creation in 1995 has counted three director-generals from Europe, and one each from Oceania, Asia and South America.

Other candidates

Besides Amina, the other women candidates are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, and Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

They are in the running alongside Liam Fox of Britain and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia.

This is after other candidates with the least support -- Jesus Saede Kuri (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova) and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt) -- were eliminated.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that President Uhuru Kenyatta could travel to Europe in the coming week to help drum-up support for Amina.

And on Saturday, Kenya's top athletics guns, led by Olympic trail-blazer Kipchoge Keino and the current world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, voiced their support for Amina's candidature.

"Amina Mohamed has demonstrated that she has the power to excel even in the toughest conditions. I see in her the rare trait of exceptional endurance only exhibited by people with outstanding mental and physical stamina, the kind of people who break records in the most unlikely situations," Eliud Kipchoge said in his message.

"She is a kindred limitless spirit akin to the one that propelled me to venture into the world of invisible limits to set the unthinkable sub-2 marathon record broadening the sphere of long-distance running to new levels, now within human-reach.

"We may not know where the limits in the multilateral trading system are, but Minister Amina is willing to find them and help you, the Membership, conquer them.

It takes a champion to recognise another. I believe that Amina Mohamed is the best person suited to lead the World Trade Organisation at this time. I am running with Amina! Go champion go!" Kipchoge added.

Overcome adversity

Legendary 1968 Olympic 1,500 metres champion Kipchoge Keino said, just like his own triumph at the Mexico Games, Amina has overcome adversity.

"She understands the issues facing the system more than anyone else and has the integrity, track-record and unmatched professional, political and managerial competence to set never before witnessed trade consensus records,"Keino said.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya President Paul Tergat praised Amina for changing needs of institutions under her mandate.

"She approaches leadership with the mind of a long-distance runner, consistently and with great adaptability to the changing terrain. She is a master of delivering results in record time," Tergat said.

Others who rallied behind Amina on Saturday were former world marathon record holders Tegla Loroupe and Catherine Ndereba, along with 800 metres world record holder David Rudisha.

"With immense opportunities at her disposal, she has chosen to lead the World Trade Organisation to a new level where the expectations of all members are equally met and surpassed," Rudisha said.

"Her vision weaves inclusiveness into the international trade regime uplifting the economic status of all members and the livelihoods of billions of people all over the world."

Ndereba said Amina has been a living hero and mentor.

"I admire, value and recognise the spirit that guides her. It is the same spirit that I have seen in the most empowering and uplifting leaders," Ndereba of the Kenya Prisons Service said.

Amina, 58, ran for the WTO leadership in 2013 and her vision this time is "reform, recovery, renewal."

Additional reporting from AFP

More From: Nation

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.