World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Announces Resignation

 

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced Monday he would step down next month, more than three years before his current term was due to expire.

The decision ends Kim’s six-year tenure and may give US President Donald decisive influence over the future leadership of the global development lender.

“It has been a great honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim said in a statement.

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Kim, who became president in 2012, is to join an as-yet unnamed firm focusing on investments in developing countries, the bank said in a statement, and will return to the board of Partners-in-Health, which he co-founded.

Under Kim’s leadership, the bank set the goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and ramped up financing.

Last year, it also won approval for a sharp $13 billion capital increase after acceding to requests from the Trump administration to curb loans to high-income countries like China.

Kim’s tenure was also marked by high levels of disaffection among World Bank staff, who chafed at a widespread internal restructuring that Kim began.

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim president upon Kim’s February 1 departure, the bank said in a statement.

Buhari’s Discussion With World Bank President Not Unusual, Ezekwesili Says

File Photo: Oby Ezekwesili

Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has clarified what President Muhammadu Buhari discussed with the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, saying that the discussion is not unusual.

Ezekwesili who served as the Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa from May 2007 to May 2012 says she can throw light on the issue as she served as Vice President during the period the discussion was made.

In a series of tweets using her verified Twitter handle, she said the priority given to North East in Buhari’s discussion with the world bank boss was necessary as the region is a post-conflict area.

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“The prioritizing given to North East in discussion between @JimYongKim & @MBuhari is thus NOT UNUSUAL AT ALL. Let’s NOT POLITICIZE IT please.

“It, however, DOES NOT MEAN that the REST OF SUCH COUNTRY becomes NEGLECTED in the Knowledge & Lending Programs of the Bank. NOT AT ALL. At time they met in 2015, serious work and discussions already took place among Development Partners on HOW BEST TO HELP STABILIZE North East,” she said.

Ezekwesili said the statement by the world bank president is not as it sounds adding that, as a post conflict zone, the North needed special attention. She said the priority given to the North East became necessary when it joined the list of zones the destabilization with worsened Human Development.

“The FACT of that statement by the @WorldBank President @JimYongKim is NOT AS IT SOUNDS. I will explain. I want EVERYONE to KNOW that the statement made by the @WorldBank President @JimYongKim IS NOT AS IT SOUNDS. I should KNOW. I was VP there.

“As a practice, POST- conflict zones -e.g. Northern Uganda, Northern CAR, Eastern DRC receive Special Focus from WorldBank. It MAKES SENSE!”

She said when she became the Vice President of World Bank, the strategy was to prioritise quick intervention to post-conflict areas which the North-East falls into.

“Our Africa Strategy when I became VP of @WorldBank 48 countries including Nigeria PRIORITIZED QUICK RECONSTRUCTION of PostConflict areas.

“The Evidence-Based justification for PRIORITIZING Post-Conflict Reconstruction is that it helps BUILD RESILIENCE & Prevents a RELAPSE. Prioritizing Reconstruction of the Post-Conflict zone in ANY of those countries FACTUALLY PROVED to be KEY for REST OF COUNTRY GROWTH&STABILITY!”

Ezekwesili said the Buhari’s conversation with Yong Kim was turned into an issue of controversy due to the existing tension in Nigeria. She, therefore, called on President Buhari appreciate feedback and conduct a review of its administration

“FEEDBACK is IMPORTANT for IMPROVING GOVERNANCE especially in a country as DIVERSE as ours. President @MBuhari can make this moment COUNT. Our President, @MBuhari &his FG @NGRPresident @AsoRock @ProfOsinbajo seize on moment to CONDUCT a DIVERSITY REVIEW of their Administration,” she said.

World Bank To Disclose More Information On Spending Of Abacha Loot

World BankThe Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), says the World Bank might soon release more information on the spending of some of the monies stolen by late General Sani Abacha.

This is sequel to an appeal by SERAP to the World Bank’s archives unit for public access.

SERAP asked the World Bank to account for the spending of 50 million dollars of Abacha’s loot, which was received before 2005 and kept in a special account.

It also asked for evidence and location of schools which benefited from the Universal Basic Education programme as well as evidence and location of the 13 road projects completed with the recovered money.

The World Bank, in October 2015 acknowledged the receipt of SERAP’s letter and said that it needed more time to compile and furnish the group with information on the spending of the recovered loot.

SERAP explained at the time that such information would not only enable the Nigerian masses to know the status of the recovered loot but it would also equip civil society organisations to engage the government on greater transparency and accountability.

SERAP had in September 2015 also urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to “thoroughly investigate the role and involvement of the World Bank in the repatriation, management and spending of repatriated Abacha loot”.

In a report, the group also recommended that the government should probe other similar funds, with a view to ensuring full transparency and accountability in the transactions.

Op-Ed: SERAP? Shut up!

serap

I am often amazed at the proclivity of some idle persons for claims that are not only exaggerated but also completely baseless. These ambitious individuals are usually used by paymasters to spin all sorts of specious tales whilst hiding behind the mask of non-governmental organisation, civil society or pressure group of various nomenclatures. Their ostensible motivation is public interest, but their real goal is to get back at perceived enemies of their sponsors and, perhaps, gain some popularity for themselves in the process. One group that appears to have mastered this art is so-called Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

An examination of the group’s activities, compared to its stated objectives, shows that SERAP is little more than a terribly misguided set of noisemakers. While the group is touted as a non-profit organisation established “to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights”, recent developments have shown that the organisation is nothing but a bunch of attention-seeking opportunists.

In fact, one doubts if it is really an organisation and not a “one-man battalion” with the unseemly prominence of one Adetokunbo Mumuni who is believed to be the body’s Executive Director.

Anyone who has been following this SERAP’s press releases and “media noise” would easily understand what I am talking about. The latest in the series of uncouth debates generated by the group is its false alarm about the recovered Abacha loot. In a statement made available to the public on November 29, 2015, SERAP alleged mismanagement of the recovered funds and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe ex-minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. How do you call for the probe of someone who facilitated the recovery of the loot and ensured its judicious disbursement?

Alluding to records purportedly obtained from the World Bank, Mumuni in SERAP says it is “closely studying and scrutinising with a view Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2to discovering whether the documents contain details that Nigerians would like to see and whether the information correspond to the facts on the ground.” In the same breath, however, he calls for the probe of the former minister of finance. Isn’t it instructive that the ramshackle of a group has proceeded to pass judgement while acknowledging that it had not done due diligence to conclude its scrutiny and investigations?

Contrary to SERAP’s claims that the disbursement of the fund was not monitored, the World Bank indeed monitored how the money was spent, together with a group of Nigerian and Swiss NGOs. Beyond monitoring, they issued a report which is well documented at the World Bank. The gist of the entire process has been in the public domain for about a decade. Apparently, the bank has furnished SERAP with the relevant documents in this regard, and the latter is attempting to twist the information to defame Dr Okonjo-Iweala and sully her reputation.

The World Bank specifically stated in one of its reports that the monitoring and analysis of repatriated fund utilisation was undertaken both at the macro level and at the micro level. While the macro level involved analysis of general budget expenditure trends, the micro level deployed a field survey of randomly selected projects funded under the program. In its December 2006 report, a 58-page document [http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTNIGERIA/Resources/Abacha_Funds_Monitoring_1221.pdf], the World Bank clearly affirms that in spite of expected difficulties recorded in the joint monitoring exercise – being the first of its kind – the process was largely successful. It earned a seal of approval from the government and civil society, both of whom acknowledged that they have found the exercise valuable.

Now, where was SERAP when these reports were published and jointly attested to by international observers, government representatives, and reputable Civil Society Organisations? The monitoring exercise involved bodies like the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Action Aid International, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, among others. It is laughable that an organisation which claimed to have been in existence since 2004 has only just woken up in 2015 to raise issues where none exists. How daft and desperate can people be? Well, the good news is that SERAP and its sponsors are about to be revealed for who they really are. So Nigerians will not be deceived anymore by their antics.

It will be recalled that this same Mumuni in SERAP was used to call for the revocation of Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment on the board of GAVI, owned by Bill and Melinda Gates, for spurious claims that the former minister favoured GAVI while in office. The silliness of SERAP is made glaring when one considers that the money in question was not Nigeria’s money in the first place. It was GAVI’s donation to Nigeria for the immunisation of Nigerian children, for which GAVI later discovered inappropriate use of $2.2million of the funds and therefore called for a refund of that amount. An official release of GAVI’s finding was published on its site several months ago to set the record straight on this transaction [http://www.gavi.org/Library/News/Statements/2015/Reimbursement-of-misused-amounts-identified-in-Gavi-Cash-Programme-Audit-in-Nigeria/].

Little wonder that despite the sponsored hullabaloo made by SERAP and its media cronies, GAVI did not even accord their noise a glancing attention.

I think it’s high time Mumuni, his hurting sponsors and SERAP shut up or go get another prey. That Okonjo-Iweala woman is too smart and too formidable a target for their puerile and uncoordinated stratagem. And the Nigerian people are a better informed audience than Mumu gives them credit for.

 

Issachar Odion is a Political Scientist writing from Port Harcourt.

Abacha Loot: World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Information  

world bankThe World Bank says it needs additional time to provide comprehensive information on the spending of recovered funds looted by the late Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha.

The World Bank told the human rights group seeking information on the loot, which is about seven billion dollars, that for now it is compiling information on the spending.

According to the World Bank “In response to your request, we would like to inform you that we are still considering your request and we will need additional time because the money involved is too huge for us to handle.”

The World Bank said that although it takes just 20 working days to respond to such requests, under special cases it could take much longer time.

The loot stolen by the former military ruler from 1993 to 1998 is estimated to be worth 11.3 billion dollars.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had written to the World Bank demanding information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

The World Bank acknowledged the request and asked for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

World Bank Wants More Time To Compile Abacha Loot 

World BankThe World Bank has said that it needs more time to compile and furnish the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, with information on the spending of the loot recovered from the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

SERAP says such information would not only enable the Nigerian masses to know the status of the recovered loot but it would also equip civil society organisations to engage the government on greater transparency and accountability.

A statement issued by SERAP’s Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, said that it has received a letter from the World Bank, acknowledging its request and asking for more time to be able to supply comprehensive information on how the recovered Abacha loot was spent.

According to SERAP, the said letter dated October 15, 2015, was signed by Ann May of the World Bank Access to Information Team.

The group had on September 21, 2015 sent an ‘Access to Information’ request to the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, asking him to release documents detailing the projects to which the loot recovered from Abacha was applied, as well as the implementation status of such projects.

Ebola Containment: Nigeria Receives World Bank Commendation

World BankNigeria has clearly overcome Ebola virus disease and for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), this is a commendable feat.

President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, after a special meeting of the group and the IMF, said Nigeria has demonstrated high competence in the way the Ebola Containment was handled.

He praised the federal, state and local government and all medical workers and the private sector for working together to contain the Ebola virus in the country.

The meeting of the World Bank and IMF, which held in Washington on Thursday morning, noted sadly that the virus continues to surge in the three worst affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

If more countries get trapped in the spread within two years, the financial impact could reach 32.6 billion dollars by the end of 2015.

The United Nations Ebola response coordinator, Dr. David Nabarro, has said that the worst outbreak of Ebola on record can be contained if countries quickly build and staff treatment centers in West African nations hardest hit by the deadly virus.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said Ebola had claimed the lives of 3,879 people from among 8,033 confirmed, probable and suspected cases since it was identified in Guinea in March.

Officials with the U.S. Center for Disease Control were dispatched to study how Nigeria achieved its Ebola containment after the United States reported that Ebola had been discovered in Dallas, Texas.

The CDC Director, Tom Frieden, said in a statement, “It’s clear the nation (US) needs a quick and thorough response to its first Ebola patient” noting that “their (Nigeria’s) extensive response to a single case of Ebola shows that control is possible with rapid, focused interventions.”

Nigeria has not reported new cases since August 31. Likewise, Senegal has not reported any new Ebola cases since September 18.

According to the CDC, Nigeria reported their first case July 20 when Patrick Sawyer traveled from Liberia to Lagos, Nigeria. He exposed 72 other passengers with the virus. Nigerian health officials found everyone who had been in contact with Sawyer and developed a mobilization plan.

They reached more than 26,000 households in this process. Nigeria also established the Ebola Management Center in the process.

#WEF14: World Leaders Advocate Changing Climate For Growth And Development

World leaders at the World Economic Forum holding in Davos, Switzerland have stressed the need for the whole world to tackle Climate Change and set new goals for ending extreme poverty globally.

At Friday’s debate on ‘Changing the Climate For Growth and Development’, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said that Climate Change was putting the whole world at risk, emphasising a greater need for more efforts to be made towards reducing the effects.

“Our communities, small or large and even our national security, political instability have been caused by the impact of climate change,” he said.

The UN leader dismissed some perceptions that tackling climate change would affect or reduce the world’s capacity to address global growth, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and future developments, saying that “it is a wrong belief”.

Sustainable Development Growth

“We have to tackle this climate change. Tackling climate change will put all of us onto a sustainable development growth.

“Addressing all of our lives’ activities in a sustainable way will help us in tackling climate change. Therefore, these two issues are mutually re-enforcing and mutually supporting, Mr Ban Ki-moon said.

He pointed out that tackling the challenges posed by climate change would enable the entire world have a universal access to energy.

“It will help to strengthen our capacity to resilient infrastructure, global health, sustainable urban transportation and bio-diversities,” Mr ban Ki-moon said.

He also said that short-lived pollutants would be addressed.

The UN leader called for a very strong and tight partnership among government, communities and civil societies.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, who was one of the discussants, stressed the need for the whole world to start greening the way things were done.

“If we fail to get a grip now on solutions to deal with climate change and start greening the way we look at everything we do, I think this will cause a problem. The financing and the enabling is key.

“We need to move to solutions.

“In 2012 we experienced unexpected flood in Nigeria. A million house holds were affected. Road infrastructure and investments made in the housing and health sectors were wiped out.

In Africa, we have moved a step further towards tackling these challenges and I think that what we need now is solution.

“We have the African Risk Capacity, which is a weather based insurance mechanism.

“The insurance payment kicks in within three weeks of any disaster,” she explained.

On the need to tackle extreme poverty globally, Dr Okonjo-Iweala suggested that the world should “look at the path of investment; that is the path of the private sector and what we can do with private sector solutions.”

She stressed the need for funding, saying “there is very little investment really in trying to support the systems”.

Reducing Carbon Intensity

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, also pointed out that there were many things needed to be done.

He called for a target to be set for September at the UN General Assembly.

“There are so many things we know we can do right now.

“Why wouldn’t we be able to increase, for example, green burn from the 10 billion dollars current level to 20 billion? Why don’t we set a target of how much carbon that we can take out of the world in a year? That is a practically reasonable goal to set. Something that is very positive and very good,” he said.

In its contribution in tackling climate change, the World Bank would look at all projects to identify ways of reorganising how things are done to ensure that they are environment friendly with little or no impact on the climate.

“We have to make sure that we do not pull defeat out of the jaws of victory by losing sight of things like the MDGs. They are good goals and they will continue to remain good goals.

“We have to step back and look at the good things that we can do right now to reduce the carbon intensity,” the World  Bank boss suggested.

Sustaining Developments In Africa

A former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, stressed the need to focus on sustaining developments in Africa by tackling climate change.

“Africa is projected to have more people than China and India combined by the end of the century and this lays emphasis on the need to tackle climate change in Africa,” he pointed out.

Another discussant, Bill Gates, founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed the need for countries to focus more on reducing extreme poverty while reviewing the MDGs.

He also emphasised the need for an improved health delivery in different countries, as a means of checking the increasing world population.

“If you get health improved, families will embrace the need to reduce the number of children they will have,” he said.

Other persons at the debate were Paul Polman, Mishal Husain and Erna Solberg.

An unprecedented international effort will be made in September during the UN General Assembly to energise leaders to successfully negotiate a climate change agreement and set new goals for ending extreme poverty globally.

The Climate Change Summit meeting at the UN on September 23 will focus only on climate change, the UN Secretary General has said.

Mr Ban Ki-moon urged all government leaders, philanthropists, community leaders and investors in carbon intensive technologies that would be attending the meeting to bring their own commitment.

“Political leaders should come to the meeting with a very decisive, determined, passionate and visionary leadership for the future of our generation and the future of a sustainable planet earth,” he said.

Channels Television’s correspondent covering the World Economic Forum, Harriet Agbenyi, says a lot of focus is on Africa and the development of the continent.

“Listening to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, it seems Nigeria has a game plan, but Nigerians will have to wait and see how these turns out,” Harriet said.

Okonjo-Iweala not interested in World Trade Organisation job

The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday said she is not interested in replacing Pascal Lamy as head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) when the Frenchman steps down in a year’s time.

Nigeria's Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala speaks during an interview in Abuja

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala left her role as managing director of the World Bank last year to become the most high-profile member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet in an expanded version of a role she held between 2003-2006.

Less than a year into her post she ran to be president of the World Bank in April, losing out to Korean-born American health expert Jim Yong Kim. It was the first time in the Bank’s history that the United States’ hold on the job was challenged.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Okonjo-Iweala is not a candidate for the leadership of the WTO. She has also not expressed any interest whatsoever in the position,” an emailed statement from the finance ministry said.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s opponents questioned her commitment to Nigeria after her unsuccessful World Bank bid, so showing interest in this post could have been politically damaging.

Emerging market countries will want to see one of their own in charge of the Geneva-based trading club, after the top jobs at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank went to a European and an American.

But there are already signs that developing nations will squabble over the identity of their candidate, meaning the race for the job overseeing negotiations to reform global farm subsidies, customs and trading rules is wide open.

Mr Lamy’s tenure at the WTO has been marked by Russia’s accession last month, and by disputes, such as a trans-Atlantic row over aircraft subsidies between Boeing and Airbus. Most of all, it has been overshadowed by the failure to agree on any reform of the world trade rules.

Formal nominations are not due until December, but trade diplomats are already assessing chances and gathering names.
So far, only two have said they want the job.

One is New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser and the other is Ghana’s former trade minister Alan Kyerematen, whose candidacy has been approved by the African Union (AU).

Okonjo-Iweala congratulates newly selected World Bank President

The Coordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called for a more transparent process in the selection of the President of the World Bank.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Monday after the selection of Jim Yong Kim as the President of the bank, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala says that Africa’s support for her candidature has gone a long way in breaking the jinx of having a European head the leadership of the bank.

She however congratulated Mr Kim over his emergence as the twelfth World Bank president. The Minister thanked Nigerians as well as all Africans for their teaming support for her candidacy.

Kim promised to work with Okonjo-Iweala

The newly selected President of the World Bank has promised to work with the other candidates who contested the position with him.

Mr Kim disclosed this in his acceptance statement published on the World Bank website.

“I have spoken with Minister Okonjo-Iweala and Professor Ocampo. They have both made important contributions to economic development, and I look forward to drawing on their expertise in the years to come,” he said.

Mr Kim said that as the World Bank’s President, he will seek a new alignment of the global institution with a rapidly changing world.

“Together, with partners old and new, we will foster an institution that responds effectively to the needs of its diverse clients and donors; delivers more powerful results to support sustained growth; prioritizes evidence-based solutions over ideology; amplifies the voices of developing countries; and draws on the expertise and experience of the people we serve.

My discussions with the Board and member countries point to a global consensus around the importance of inclusive growth. We are closer than ever to achieving the mission inscribed at the entrance of the World Bank – “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty.” The power of this mission is matched by the talent of the World Bank Group staff. May this shared mission embolden our efforts to end the disparities which too often diminish our shared humanity. Let us work together to provide every woman and man with the opportunity to determine their own future.”

Mr Kim is expected to resume his new position in July.

Kim beats Okonjo-Iweala as new World Bank President

The United States’ candidate, Jim Yong Kim, has been appointed as the new President of the World Bank, maintaining a long-standing US tradition of holding the World Bank top spot.

Kim, a Korean-American man who is currently the president of Dartmouth University, was nominated for the position by President Barack Obama.

Aged 52, the Dartmouth president is an established doctor who has made great strides in the treatment of HIV/AIDs in poor communities in the developing world, as well as reducing the impact of tuberculosis.

He is set to succeed Robert Zoellick as President of the bank and serve a five year term that will begin on 1 July, the World Bank said in a statement.

“We all look forward to working with Dr. Kim when he assumes his responsibilities,” the World Bank said in the statement.

They extended their thanks to the opponents who had fallen short, saying “their candidacies enriched the discussion of the role of the President and of the World Bank Group’s future direction”.

However, while speaking at a budget presentation earlier today, the Nigerian contender had cast aspersions on the voting process, saying it was far from merit-based.

“I want people to know what is happening and that is that they are voting. This thing is not really being decided on merit, it is voting with political weights and shares and therefore the U.S will get it,” she said.

By convention, the US has always held the top job at the World Bank since it was founded in 1944, and it is the first time the nation’s iron grip on the position is being challenged by developing nations who are calling for a change in leadership.

“We have made the process (for electing the World Bank president) different, it will never ever be the same again,” Okonjo-Iweala said earlier today.
“We have shown that we can contest this thing and Africa can produce people capable of running the entire architecture (of the Bank).”

Okonjo-Iweala, José Antonio Ocampo of Colombia and America’s Jim Yong Kim were originally the three candidates vying for the post, but on Friday Ocampo pulled out out of the race to throw his weight behind Okonjo Iweala.

The finance minister also had the support and backing of several developing nations, but the race was still considered a losing battle as the United States had a majority of the voting shares among the 25-member board.

Newly appointed World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, will oversee a staff of 9,000 economists and development experts and and a loan portfolio that hit $258bn (£163bn) last year.

World Bank Presidency: Ocampo steps down for Okonjo-Iweala

A former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, has withdrawn his candidacy from the race for the World Bank presidency to support Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Former Colombian Finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo and Nigeria's Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Mr Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil to represent a constituency of Latin American countries on the World Bank board, reportedly agreed to withdraw from the race following an agreement among emerging and developing countries to come together to support a nominee.

“For me as an economist and as a Colombian, it has been a great honour to participate in this first open competition for the presidency of the World Bank,” Mr. Ocampo said in his withdrawal letter.

“I am pleased with the great success they have had from the Directors, evaluating my candidacy as one of the most strong, and the international public opinion, the ideas I have proposed throughout the debate, and now I hope to contribute to reform the World Bank in the coming years.

“However, as we approach the final phase of this process, it is clear that this is becoming no longer a competition on the merits of the candidates, but a political exercise. In this exercise I am at a disadvantage by the lack of support from the government of my country and how this has hindered the accumulation of political backing for my candidacy.

“Although this choice does not comply in a full feature an open, transparent and based on the merit of candidates, it has established the precedent that the election of President of the World Bank has to be different.

“In that spirit, for the reasons given above, and to facilitate the desired unity of the emerging and developing economies around a candidate, today I am retiring from the race to support the Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who I wish the best of luck in this final stage.”

Okonjo-Iweala would remain as the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert who is seen as the favourite to win the race.

A straw poll among World Bank directors representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries and Australia, backed Okonjo-Iweala, a source in the Bank reportedly told Reuters.

Emerging market nations are seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long controlled by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favorite to win the World Bank presidency because of his backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from emerging market countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions favorable to their interests and also increase their odds of winning senior jobs in the future.

Earlier, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the BRICS group of emerging market countries is likely to make a joint decision on who to support for the World Bank top post as soon as Friday.

Mantega told reporters the five countries were still discussing which candidate they would support. The BRICS group also includes Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Ocampo, who met with Mantega on Thursday, said developing nations wanted a single candidate to challenge Kim.