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Wolfowitz Vows to Stay on as World Bank Chief


A defiant Paul Wolfowitz Sunday said he will stay in his job as World Bank president pending an executive board decision on irregularities concerning the promotion of an employee with whom he was romantically linked. VOA's Barry Wood reports.

The Wolfowitz controversy overshadowed the work of the 24-nation development committee. At the end of a day-long meeting, committee chairman Mexican economy minister Augustin Carstens said participants worry that the controversy could undermine the effectiveness of the World Bank.

"The current situation is of great concern to all of us, all the members of the committee," said Augustin Carstens. "We endorsed the board's actions in looking into this matter and we ask it to complete its work."

In an unprecedented move the bank's staff association has called on Wolfowitz to resign over his involvement in a huge pay increase for his girlfriend. Wolfowitz, unpopular because in his role in helping to plan the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has apologized for his action and said he will abide by recommendations of the bank's executive board.

At a closing press conference Wolfowitz sidestepped questions whether he should resign.

"Look, I believe in the mission of this organization and I believe I can carry it out," said Paul Wolfowitz. "I've had many expressions of support as well as the things you refer to. I come to what was mentioned in the communiqué that we need to work our way through this. The board is looking into the matter. We'll let them complete their work."

While the Bush administration has voiced its strong support for Wolfowitz, he has received only tepid endorsement from the European countries that are particularly influential on the bank board.

Shaha Riza, the woman with whom Wolfowitz was romantically involved is a North African born Arab with British citizenship. She says she has been victimized by the scandal, which involved her reassignment and a large salary increase that took her tax-free pay well above those of other bank employees with similar responsibilities.

Wolfowitz became bank president two years ago. Before that served as U.S. deputy secretary of defense. He has long been associated with conservative causes.

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