US Surrenders Power To Appoint World Bank President


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.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008

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