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Sydney Morning Herald

Wolfowitz Told: No Changes, Just Go

Steven Weisman

WASHINGTON - A senior aide has told Paul Wolfowitz to resign as president of the World Bank, unimpressed by the former White House official's promise to change his management style.At a meeting with about 30 vice-presidents of the bank on Wednesday, Dr Wolfowitz had asked for suggestions on how to restore faith in his management.

He has been accused of poor consultation and favouritism toward his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, who received a promotion and large salary rises when Dr Wolfowitz joined the bank in 2005. 0420 04

Graeme Wheeler, one of Dr Wolfowitz's two senior deputies, said the bank president needed to step down.

"The fact that Graeme would ask him to resign has been all over the bank today," a bank official said. "He is an unassuming guy who is very well respected here."

The session with Dr Wolfowitz and his vice-presidents was seen as reflecting his determination to remain in his job, as he vowed to do on Sunday, despite a rebuke from the bank's most powerful oversight committee, which issued a statement of "great concern" over his leadership.

Dr Wolfowitz was not specific about what management changes he had in mind, but he said resigning would not be good for the bank, officials said. Instead, he solicited ideas on "the way forward".

The vice-presidents left the meeting with a mandate to discuss Dr Wolfowitz's appeal for suggestions - and Mr Wheeler's call for his resignation - with their staff, the officials said.

The bank's 24-member executive board had also scheduled a meeting for yesterday to discuss the situation. Officials said the board was still trying to decide whether to reprimand Dr Wolfowitz or to make some other assessment of his role in the transfer and promotion of Ms Riza.

Reports of Dr Wolfowitz's plans to change his management style did not appear to placate the staff association, which has called on him to resign.

"The staff association has been raising these issues consistently since he came in," said its chairwoman, Alison Cave. "He has never said how he's going to work with us. He has never said anything to the staff."

Dr Wolfowitz, the former No. 2 at the Pentagon, received a vote of confidence from the White House on Wednesday. A spokesman, Tony Fratto, said the bank's reputation had not been hurt by the controversy. "We'd like to see him remain," Mr Fratto said.

Copyright © 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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