Three in the running for World Bank presidency

26 Mar 12
Candidates from the United States, Colombia and Nigeria have been nominated to become the next president of the World Bank.

By Nick Mann | 26 March 2012

Candidates from the United States, Colombia and Nigeria have been nominated to become the next president of the World Bank.

The three-person shortlist for the successor to current incumbent Robert Zoellick was finalised on Friday night. It includes US national Jim Yong Kim, José Antonio Ocampo from Colombia and Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Zoellick is scheduled to leave the post at the end of June.

Kim, who is president of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, was nominated as the US’s choice for the role by President Barack Obama who said: ‘Jim has spent more than two decades working to improve conditions in developing countries around the world.’

‘The World Bank is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce poverty and raise standards of living around the globe, and Jim’s personal experience and years of service make him an ideal candidate for this job.’

A US citizen has headed the World Bank since 1944, under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the US and Europe which also means the managing director of the International Monetary Fund is a European.

However, there is increasing pressure for the developing world to have more a say in the selection process. Last month, a global coalition of more than 50 charities and campaign groups said the US should publicly bring an end to its monopoly of the post.

Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy was jointly endorsed by Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, who together said she has ‘all the credentials and qualities to be an outstanding leader of the World Bank Group’.

They said their endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala, who is currently Nigeria’s finance minister, was ‘in line with the belief that the appointment of the leadership of the World Bank and its sister institution, the IMF, should be merit-based, open and transparent’.

All three candidates will now be formally interviewed by the World Banks’ executive directors in Washington DC, with the aim of reaching agreement on the successful nominee by the time the World Bank holds it spring meetings between April 16-21.

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