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Emerging Nations To Challenge US Supremacy At World Bank Presidency

3/23/2012 6:54 AM ET

The United States, which has been holding the presidency of the World Bank since its founding after World War II, is facing challenge to the top post for the first time in the global development lender's 67-year-old history.

South Africa is set to announce its candidate for the World Bank presidency at a news conference on Friday, the deadline for nominations.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is said to have reached a consensus after consultations with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma on Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist, diplomat and former World Bank Managing Director, as the African candidate.

The United States, which has the largest voting share among the 187-member World Bank, has not yet announced its candidate.

Several names have come up, but the latest shortlisted are Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Lawrence Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, and Laura Tyson, a professor at the University of California, who is an expert on international trade and competitiveness.

American development economist Jeffrey Sachs, who enjoys the backing of smaller developing countries, has already been nominated as a candidate, but he does not have Washington's official support.

Brazil said this week that former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo would be "great" candidate, while China is reportedly considering to put forward its nominee.

If emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil can agree on a common candidate, possibly the African Iweala, they will be able to throw the first potential challenge to the United States, which is expected to win the support of most developed nations, including the European bloc and Japan.

Nominations will be submitted to the 25-member World Bank board of member countries, which will then shortlist the names of three candidates and make a decision when IMF and World Bank convene for semi-annual meetings on April 21.

Robert B Zoellick, who became the 11th President of the World Bank Group in July 2007, steps down in June this year.

Informing the Bank's Board of his decision last month, Zoellick said he steps down at a time "the Bank is strong, healthy and well positioned for new challenges."

by RTT Staff Writer

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