Next WTO Chief

The list of candidates running to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was narrowed to five after members completed the first round of consultations with all its 159 members, WTO announced on Friday.

They are Mari Pangestu from Indonesia, Tim Groser from New Zealand, Herminio Blanco Mendoza from Mexico, Taeho Bark from the Republic of Korea, and Roberto Azevedo from Brazil.

Both of the candidates from Africa, Alan Kyerematen from Ghana and Amina Mohamed from Kenya, were ruled out of further competition, joined by Anabel Gonzalez from Costa Rica and Ahmad Hindawi from Jordan.

WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told a press conference that both Kenya and Ghana complained about the process at an informal meeting of the General Council in which the results were officially announced by the chair, referring to that some members expressed five preferences and some fewer than four, instead of four as requested.

However, the chair of the General Council Shahid Bashir said the fact that some delegations deviated from four preferences did not affect the results in this round.

"The results were clear and unambiguous, whether measured in terms of number of preferences received, or by breadth of support across geographic regions or across the generally recognized categories of members, LDCs, developing countries and developed countries," he said.

The second round of consultations with members will begin on April 16 and continue through April 24. Members are requested to express two preferences, who will enter the final round.

The selection process will conclude with a decision by the general council no later than May 31, according to the WTO.

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