8 Apr 2012

Former World Bank officials back Nigerian candidate

9:37 am on 8 April 2012

A group of former World Bank officials has written a letter backing Nigeria's finance minister to be its next president.

The executive board of the Bank has to choose between Ngozi 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.

Traditionally the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, which this time is Dr Kim.

But in an open letter, 35 former economists and managers said the bank should choose the next chief on merit, and supported the Mrs Okonjo-Iweala

Another group of economists this week signed a petition backing Colombia's Jose Antonio Ocampo.

This is the first time the World Bank has had to choose between candidates since its creation more than 60 years ago, the BBC reports.

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

The United States, which is the bank's largest shareholder, has always picked the bank's president. The US, Europe and Japan have 54% of the votes.

Under an informal arrangement, in return, Europe appoints a European as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is the World Bank's sister institution. It is currently run by Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde.

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 a review of that weighted voting system.

The nations, sometimes referred to as the Brics countries, are working to chose a joint candidate, according to Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega.