Iraq vetoed nomination of Saudi to head OPEC

The Kuwaiti oil minister Tuesday disclosed that Iraq blocked Saudi Arabia's Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish from being elected secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. He said the other ten OPEC nations supported Al-Herbish to succeed Rilwanu Lukman during the group's meeting last weekend in Vienna.


Darius Snieckus
OGJ Online

LONDON�Kuwaiti Oil Minister Saud Nasser Al-Sabah Tuesday disclosed that Iraq blocked Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish, Saudi Arabia's representative to the board of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, from being elected secretary-general.

He said the other ten OPEC nations supported Al-Herbish to succeed Rilwanu Lukman during the group's meeting last weekend in Vienna.

OPEC subsequently named Al�odr�ez Araque, Venezuela's Minister of Energy and Mines and the current OPEC president, as the new secretary general.

Al-Sabah questioned whether Iraq should be permitted to exercise the rights of full membership in OPEC after vetoing the group's first choice of secretary general, and after being many years in arrears on its membership dues.

The minister, in London to speak at the Oil & Money conference, said the selection of Rodriguez was "a very good decision."

He said, "Unfortunately, Iraq had vetoed the Saudi nominee. And the only way to get out of this impasse was�and I think it was a wise decision�to ask Al�odr�ez to become secretary-general."

"This is not a new [problem]," Al-Sabah added, "we have long had historically had difficulties in electing a secretary-general because of political problems."

He described Al-Herbish as a "very capable man"

Iraq's membership, Al-Sabah said, should be "reviewed" in light of its delegates' actions during the election over the weekend.

"In my opinion, you have to apply the rules of the United Nations to this issue," he suggested. "A member of OPEC that has not paid its dues for so many years [should not be allowed to] exercise full rights of membership, and, furthermore, the right of veto. We may need to review the statutes of the organization itself [in the future]."

Rodr�ez, the "architect" of OPEC's troubled price band mechanism, will begin his 3-year term on Jan. 1, 2001. Algeria's Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil becomes president of the organization.

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