The US nominee, Jim Yong Kim on Thursday launched his global campaign in Ethiopia despite facing an unprecedented challenge from two developing nation candidates.
Jim Yong Kim, currently president of the prestigious Ivy League school Dartmouth College, is the favorite to win the presidency.
The United States is the Bank’s largest stakeholder and has always chosen its president since the lender was founded in 1944.
Under a mutually serving understanding, Europe has always put a European at the helm of the International Monetary Fund, the Bank’s sibling institution.
That arrangement is under fire from developing countries seeking fairer representation at the Bretton Woods institutions to reflect their rising contributions to the global economy.
Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister and a former World Bank managing director, warned in a newspaper interview that the choice of the successor for outgoing president Robert Zoellick would reveal the truth of rich nations’ promises.
“I would really hold the Bretton Woods shareholders to their word, that they want to change the way business is being done and want a merit-based, open and transparent process for the presidency,” Okonjo-Iweala told the Financial Times.
“I just want to see whether people just say things with their mouth that they don’t mean and what’s the level of hypocrisy,” she said. “So we want to test that.”
Jose Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian former finance minister, is also seeking the job.
The World Bank is expected to interview the candidates next month: Okonjo-Iweala on April 9, Ocampo on April 10 and Kim on April 11.
With Zoellick, a former US diplomat, stepping down at the end of his five-year term in June, the Bank says it wants to announce his successor by its April 20-22 meetings with the IMF.
As the Korean-American physician embarked on a global charm offensive, meeting African Union leaders in Ethiopia, 186 World Bank member countries were sent a letter from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extolling Kim’s virtues.
The letter, obtained by AFP, said President Barack Obama picked Kim “because he brings the combination of experience, innovation, and drive that will best serve the Bank in carrying out its critical mission.”
Kim, known for his work on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, has demonstrated leadership as president of the prestigious university, Dartmouth College and leading large programs at the World Health Organization, Geithner said in a letter dated Wednesday.
The letter was given to the 24 non-American executive directors — who will choose the next head of the bank — to distribute to member states.
A nearly seven-decade-long carve-up has seen Americans lead the World Bank and Europeans head the International Monetary Fund, but this year that US hegemony has been challenged for the first time.
Two developing country candidates have thrown their hats in the ring, seeking to reflect the rising contributions of emerging markets to the global economy.