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Possible candidates for the IMO

Possible candidates for the IMO
The race to find a new International Maritime Organization secretary-general is underway.

The race to find a new International Maritime Organization secretary-general is underway.

Japan confirms IMO maritime safety division director Koji Sekimizu"s bid to run for post.

The race to find a new International Maritime Organization secretary-general is underway.

Japan today confirmed that Koji Sekimizu, the current IMO maritime safety division director, would be put forward as a candidate to take over from current secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos when his second four year term comes to an end next year.

Mr Sekimizu is the first Japanese national to run for the United Nations post and is likely to be viewed as a strong contender for the top job. However, several more names are expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

Sources within the IMO told that several other member states are lining up their candidacy bids for the post and formal declarations could be expected shortly.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the current chairman of the maritime safety committee, Neil Ferrer from the Philippines, and the chairman of the marine environment protection committee, Andreas Chrysostomou from Cyprus, are both likely to be nominated.

It has also been suggested that Lee-Sik Chai of Korea and Nigeria"s Monica Mbanefo who ran against Mr Mitropolous when he was voted in to replace William O"Neil of Canada as IMO secretary-general in January 2004, will both be put forward as candidates by their respective countries.

Under IMO rules Mr Mitropoulos can only serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms.
The process for electing a new secretary-general will begin with a formal opening for nominations at the IMO council meeting in November, with a closing date likely in March next year.

During the June 2011 council meeting the nominated candidates will be invited to address the council in an open session, followed by a private session with only council member states. A secret ballot follows with the successful candidate required to have a majority of votes of those council members present.

Mr Sekimizu has been director of the IMO"s safety division since 2004 and is a widely respected figure within the IMO. Formal confirmation yesterday from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Japanese government would do all in its power to win support from other member nations suggests that the race to secure votes has now started in earnest.

However, Japan is likely to face stiff competition from both Mr Ferrer and Mr Chrysostomou if their nominations are confirmed. As a former chairman of the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment and an influential figure within the IMO, Mr Chrysostomou is likely to command a significant body of support from IMO insiders. Mr Ferrer"s position as an authoritative chairman of the IMO"s most powerful committee, the MSC, is also likely to offer him front-running status if his candidacy is confirmed.

When Mr Mitropoulos won his landslide victory in the last election against the then long-serving William O"Neil, he won an impressive 32 out of a possible 40 votes. The remaining votes went to Nigeria"s candidate, Ms Mbanefo.


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