Ocampo ends World Bank bid, backs Nigerian

WASHINGTON/BRASILIA Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:17am IST

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

Related Topics

WASHINGTON/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo ended his bid to become World Bank president on Friday, leaving two candidates in an unprecedented challenge to U.S. control of the global development institution.

With the board of the World Bank to meet on Monday to pick a new president, Ocampo said he hoped emerging-market nations would rally behind Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a race that he said had turned highly political.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, is now the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert who appears almost certain to secure the post.

Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil, said his candidacy had been "handicapped" by a lack of support from his own country. Colombia said last month it was focusing on a bid for the presidency of the International Labor Organization, where it had a greater chance of success.

"It is clear that the process is shifting from a strict merit-based competition, in which my candidacy stood on strong grounds, into a more political-oriented exercise," he said in a statement.

"In this process, I stand on weaker grounds due to the lack of open support from the government of my home country, Colombia," he added.

Ocampo, now the director of economic and political development at Columbia University in New York, said he did not believe the selection process had been conducted in a fully open, transparent and merit-based fashion, but it had established a strong precedent.

However, his decision to leave the race does not mean all developing countries will support Okonjo-Iweala in a straw poll on Monday when the World Bank board tries to find consensus on a successor to Robert Zoellick, who is departing in June.

Indeed, the promise of a united front from emerging markets evaporated on Friday when Russia said it would support Kim, becoming the first major emerging economy to do so.

"Taking into account Mr. Kim's considerable professional qualities, as well as his experience and knowledge, the Russian Federation will support the candidacy of Jim Yong Kim during the voting by the bank's board of directors," the Russian Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Under a informal agreement, the World Bank has always been headed by an American and the International Monetary Fund by a European.

Emerging-market nations have been seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long dominated by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favorite to win the World Bank presidency due to backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from developing countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions.

It also increases their odds of winning senior jobs coming open in the next few months, including chief economist and head of the International Finance Corp, the World Bank's private-sector lending arm.

Okonjo-Iweala thanked Ocampo and said his presence had helped to further a shared goal of an open selection process.

"I am proud that Dr. Ocampo and I have helped make history by changing the way that World Bank presidential elections are contested," she said in a statement.

(Editing by David Brunnstrom)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Political Pulse

Political Pulse

100 days of Modi: Good for business, not so good for marginalised groups.  Full Article 

Segway in India

Segway in India

Segway’s India business pegs hope on tech-savvy Modi  Full Article 

Best Economy

Best Economy

Swiss economy most competitive once again; EU, U.S., Japan improve.  Full Article 

Power Outage

Power Outage

Mumbai hit by power cuts  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Gold imports, premiums to jump on festive demand - top refiner  Full Article 

Economic Worries

Economic Worries

Pakistan's promises to IMF in doubt as protests sap economy   Full Article 

Islamic Finance

Islamic Finance

Basel III deposit challenge looms over Islamic banks   Full Article 

Antitrust Probes

Antitrust Probes

U.S. business lobby says concerned China antitrust probes unfair.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage