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. IAEA to meet on May 26 to discuss ElBaradei's successor
VIENNA, May 13 (AFP) May 13, 2009
The UN atomic watchdog said Wednesday it would meet on May 26 so that the five candidates for the position of director general could present their candidatures to its governing board.

But no date had yet been set for an actual vote, the press office of the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

"The chairperson of the IAEA board of governors will convene an informal meeting of the board on Tuesday, May 26, during which all five candidates for the director general post may make a presentation on their candidature," it said in a statement.

"A date and time for the balloting procedure for selection of the director general has not yet been scheduled."

In a letter circulated to member countries, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, board chairwoman Taous Feroukhi wrote:

"It is envisaged that each presentation will last for approximately 10 minutes. After the presentations, members will have an opportunity to pose questions to the candidates."

Five candidates are in the running to take over from Mohamed ElBaradei who is stepping down as IAEA chief in November after three terms, or 12 years, in office.

The candidates are Jean-Pol Poncelet of Belgium; Yukiya Amano of Japan; Ernest Petric of Slovenia; Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa; and Luis Echavarri of Spain.

Minty, 69, is Pretoria's long-time ambassador to the IAEA, and ran against Japanese ambassador Amano, 62, for the leadership earlier this year.

However, the race had to be re-opened after neither was able to secure the necessary two-thirds majority for outright victory.

Slovenian candidate Petric, 72, is a former IAEA ambassador and Spain's Echavarri, 60, is current head of the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency.

Poncelet, a former Belgian deputy prime minister, defence and energy minister, and current senior vice president of French nuclear group Areva, emerged as a surprise candidate at the very last minute, bringing the total number Europeans in the race to three.

ElBaradei's term of office expires on November 30, after serving as director general since 1997.

In March, when neither Amano nor Minty was able to win outright, Feroukhi said neither candidate had been able to bridge the gap between industrialised and developing nations.

Amano had been perceived to be the preferred candidate of the West and Minty the favourite of developing nations.

Whoever takes over from ElBaradei will assume the highly sensitive nuclear dossiers of Syria and Iran and will also have to persuade member countries to contribute more money to its budget.

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