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US being bucked on choice of next World Bank President

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The battle over the next president of the World Bank is heating up with the United States (US) struggling to have its way this time around.Traditionally, the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, which this time is Dr Jim Yong Kim.

The US, which is the Bank's largest shareholder, has always picked the Bank's president while getting support from Europe and Japan as the three control 54 per cent of the votes.

Under an informal arrangement, in return, Europe appoints the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is the World Bank's sister institution.

The IMF is currently run by Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde.

But a group of former World Bank officials has written a letter backing Nigeria's Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be its next president.

Last week, another group of economists signed a petition backing Colombia's José Antonio Ocampo.

This is the first time the World Bank will have to choose between candidates since its creation more than 60 years ago.

The executive board of the Bank has to choose between Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former finance minister of Colombia, and Jim Yong Kim, a public health expert and president of Dartmouth College in the US.


The bank is holding interviews this week and plans to select the successor to outgoing president Robert Zoellick by April 20, when it starts its spring meetings with the IMF.

The three-way fight is attracting increasingly passionate comments from candidates' supporters. It has also shone a light on the way the World Bank chooses its head.

Emerging economies have become increasingly unhappy with this system and are pushing for change.

The leaders of Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently called for review of the weighted voting system at the Bank.