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US doctor chosen to lead World Bank

Apr 16 2012 19:18

Washington - Jim Yong Kim, an American who is president of Dartmouth College, has been chosen to be the next president of the World Bank. His selection extends the US hold on the top job at the 187-nation development agency.

Kim, a surprise nominee of President Barack Obama, was selected in a vote by the World Bank's 25-member executive board. He will succeed Robert Zoellick, who is stepping down after a five-year term.

Developing nations waged an unsuccessful challenge to Kim, 52, a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/Aids and tuberculosis in the developing world.

Kim's selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal or economic figures.

The World Bank raises money from its member nations and borrows from investors to provide low-cost loans to developing countries.

Earlier on Monday, SA Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had said serious doubt existed about the transparency of the process in electing the World Bank president.

"From what I’ve heard there are serious concerns about the level of transparency," Gordhan told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Johannesburg.

Of the two candidates, South Africa and the rest of Africa had supported Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy.

The third candidate - Jose Antonio Ocampo, Colombia’s former finance minister and a professor at New York’s Colombia University - withdrew last week.

It was widely expected that the US candidate would win. The US has always chosen the candidate since the World Bank was established in 1944.

In turn, a European has always headed the International Monetary Fund. This was the first time ever that there had been a challenger.

However, Gordhan questioned whether the process followed had been democratic and transparent.

"The invitation was open to anybody to nominate a candidate... the question is whether the process subsequent to that has followed through on the basis of democratic tenets."

He questioned whether all candidates were given a chance to meet the position’s merit-based criteria.

"I think we’re going to find this process falls short of this criteria."

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