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Obama Nominates Jim Yong Kim For World Bank Presidency

The United States has nominated Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim as its candidate for the World Bank presidency. While announcing Korean-born's candidature, President Barack Obama said "it's time for a development professional" to head the international financial institution. He made the announcement at a White House Rose Garden event.

Several names came up, but Kim's candidature was finalized from among shortlisted candidates which included Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Lawrence Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, Laura Tyson, a professor at the University of California, who is an expert on international trade and competitiveness, and PepsiCo CEO India-born Indra Nooyi.

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.

This time around, 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. The emerging nations are striving hard to have a larger say in running the institution.

Two nominees from emerging nations are now challenging the US supremacy at World Bank presidency, with nominations coming in from Brazil and South Africa ahead of Friday's deadline for filing of nominations. China was also reportedly considering naming its own nominee.

Brazil has nominated former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo to lead the institution, while it is said to be still undecided on who to support. Brazil forwarded Ocampo's name following a request from the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been nominated for the position by South Africa, after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reached a consensus following consultations with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma. Iweala is a respected economist, diplomat and former World Bank Managing Director.

If emerging nations such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS nations) 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.

The United States has the largest voting share among the 187-member World Bank. Many member countries have criticized the informal arrangement that gives the World Bank top post to an American citizen and that of the International Monetary Fund to a European. The IMF is currently headed by France's Christine Lagarde.

All the 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.

The current World Bank President Robert Zoellick had announced in February that he was stepping down in June. Zoellick became the 11th President of the World Bank Group in July 2007.

by RTT Staff Writer

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