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Wolfowitz Given Until Friday to Defend Ethics Charges

Embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has been given until Friday to present his defense to an ethics inquiry being conducted by the bank's board. VOA's Barry Wood reports that support for Wolfowitz continues to erode.

Four weeks into an ethics scandal, former U.S. defense official Paul Wolfowitz continues to fight to keep his job.

On Wednesday the bank's 24-member executive board said Wolfowitz could have two more days to answer allegations that he violated internal code of ethics in arranging a promotion and pay increase for his companion, a bank employee. Wolfowitz assumed the presidency of the development lending institution in 2005. Before that he had a distinguished career as a diplomat and scholar and served as deputy defense secretary during the run up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

European members of the executive board are pressing for Wolfowitz's resignation, saying his effectiveness has been diminished because of the ethics scandal.

Germany's representative has been particularly vocal and wants the matter resolved before Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts a conference on aid to Africa later this month. France and Britain are also pressing for a swift resolution.

President Bush has continued to voice support for Wolfowitz, saying he is a gifted public servant. But many World Bank employees have turned against the American, calling him arrogant and ineffective. Former bank official Dennis de Tray is among Wolfowitz's critics.

"This is a crisis of leadership that did not begin with the controversy around Ms. Riza [Wolfowitz's companion]," said Dennis de Tray. "It is a much deeper set of issues having to do with the way Paul Wolfowitz managed the bank, with the relationship he had developed with senior career managers, with staff, and even with his executive directors."

De Tray spoke on Bloomberg television.

While Washington continues to officially support Wolfowitz, names of possible successors are already being discussed. European members of the board have said that if Wolfowitz resigns they would have no problem with continuing the informal tradition of the United States naming the president of the World Bank while the Europeans choose the head of the International Monetary Fund.