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Ex-Costa Rican leader drops bid to lead Inter-American Development Bank

FILE PHOTO: Costa Rica's former President Laura Chinchilla speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has dropped her bid to head the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and criticized a process seen favoring U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the institution.

“To continue with our national aspiration would be equivalent to endorsing a process that I do not consider convenient either for the IDB or for the Hemisphere under the present conditions,” said Chinchilla on Thursday.

Chinchilla’s jibe appeared directed at the United States, which has broken with decades of tradition to nominate its own candidate, Trump adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone, known for his hard-line stance on Venezuela and Cuba.

Claver-Carone, the favorite to win the top spot, would become the first person from outside Latin America to lead the Washington-based bank, a smaller cousin of the International Monetary Fund.

The IDB, founded in 1959, is currently led by Colombia’s Alberto Moreno, who is set to step down in September.

The U.S. “decision is also an extremely worrying signal for the governance that a financial institution like the IDB should have,” Chinchilla said in a letter to the government of Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado.

Several countries, including Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell have called for a delay on the vote, citing concerns about having an IDB leader from outside the region.

But Claver-Carone has pushed back against the regional opposition to his candidacy, saying 17 countries had given him public support.

“The more the process advanced, the more difficult it became for me to justify why I was participating in it,” said Chinchilla.

Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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