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ActionAid Calls for More Open, Merit-Based Selection Process for World Bank President


Several names have been mentioned as possible successors to Paul Wolfowitz, who has resigned as president of the World Bank. Wolfowitz quit Thursday after a probe concluded he broke ethics rules in arranging for a lucrative promotion at the US State Department for his companion, bank employee Shaha Riza.

Among those mentioned as replacements are former Deputy US Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, current Deputy US Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmit, and Bank of Israel official Stanley Fischer.

Many groups are calling for a change in the way the World Bank president is chosen, saying the United States has too much sway in the matter. Romilly Greenhill is a policy officer for ActionAid. From London, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“We think this is really the time for the World Bank to look at root and branch reform of the way it’s governed. Its credibility at the moment is in tatters due to this scandal. We think the time is now not to have another nomination from the White House for the next president, but instead to really look at how the institution is governed. And that means opening up the leadership selection process to people of all nationalities based on merit not on links to powerful governments. And it also means looking at distribution of votes on the World Bank board,” she says.

Greenhill says the selection must not be based on “cronyism.” Asked whether Wolfowitz’s appointment was the result of cronyism, she says, “Very much so. The US administration has always had the power to nominate the World Bank president since the beginning of the World Bank. And we think that really in the 21st Century, it’s time for a more open, transparent, merit-based process for selecting the president.”

Greenhill says the same conditions should apply when choosing a leader of the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. “The Europeans now do have an opportunity and should take the opportunity to really step forward and say we are going to relinquish our historical right to nominate the president of the IMF. I think only if they do that will they really have the legitimacy to challenge the US to open up the process on the World Bank side,” she says.

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