US Surrenders Power to Appoint World Bank President

Published on
by
the Guardian/UK

US Surrenders Power to Appoint World Bank President

by
Heather Stewart / Larry Elliot

World Bank President Robert Zoellick attends the opening plenary of the annual International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in Washington October 13, 2008. The US is to lose its power to appoint the president of the World Bank after the UK's development secretary, Douglas Alexander, brokered a deal to throw open the post to candidates from any country.(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)

WASHINGTON - The US is to lose its power to
appoint the president of the World Bank after the UK's development
secretary, Douglas Alexander, brokered a deal to throw open the post to
candidates from any country.

Backed by European governments and
developing countries, Alexander overcame resistance from the US and
Japan to secure a reform he described last night as "a significant step
forward".

Washington has had the right to hand-pick the president
of the World Bank since the institution was founded after the second
world war, with Europe choosing the managing director of the
International Monetary Fund.

Alexander said: "The agreement
provides the opportunity for candidates to be nominated regardless of
nationality. It will ensure that the best-qualified candidate is
selected."

Developing countries have grown increasingly
frustrated at the stranglehold of rich nations on the two
Washington-based multilateral bodies, with pressure for change
accelerating after the controversial presidency of Paul Wolfowitz, who
was forced to step down after a scandal involving his partner's
promotion.

Alexander said that more changes were needed: "It is a significant step forward, albeit on a much longer journey."

The
bank's development committee yesterday was dominated by concerns that
poor countries would fall victim to the global financial crisis. It
backed proposals that will give countries from sub-Saharan Africa a
third seat on its 25-strong governing board.

The bank's
president, Robert Zoellick, urged rich countries not to forget their
pledges of financial support to the developing world. The bank believes
the number of malnourished will increase by 44 million this year.

Donor
countries were also discussing whether to release a multibillion-dollar
reconstruction package to Zimbabwe. Alexander said the tests a new
Zimbabwean government would have to meet included respecting human
rights and allowing charities into the country to deliver aid.

 

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