WASHINGTON, March 23 (BSS/AFP) - The United States remained tightlipped about its choice to lead the World Bank yesterday, the eve of the deadline for nominations for the next president of the huge development lender.
The emergence of strong candidates from developing countries
has the Obama administration scrambling to come up with a heavy-
hitter from the United States, which traditionally chooses the
head of the World Bank, a person close to the situation said.
A little more than 24 hours before nominations close at the
end of the business day Friday, the White House said it had no
timing on a US nomination.
"I have no news to make on the World Bank front," White
House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shot to the top of the
rumor mill filling the news vacuum after a former Colombian
finance minister and central bank chief, Jose Antonio Ocampo,
announced his candidacy Wednesday.
Ocampo, currently a Columbia University professor, also said
that Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was a
But a spokesman for Okonjo-Iweala said that the former top-
level World Bank official "is not seeking it."
However, he told AFP, "there seems to be some serious
enthusiasm for the idea."
A person close to the World Bank confirmed that, saying
Okonjo-Iweala's name is "making the rounds" and was expected to
be proposed by South Africa.
"It's an extremely serious candidacy: she is a woman, black,
minister of finance and is a well-known person at the World
Bank," where she was managing director from 2007 to 2011, the
"That puts enormous pressure on the US side," the source
said. "They're going to have to propose a high-profile
Under a tacit agreement since the World Bank and its sister
institution the International Monetary Fund were founded nearly
70 years ago, the United States always selects an American as
World Bank president and Europe puts a European at the IMF helm.
That traditional arrangement governing the two 187-nation
institutions has triggered outrage from developing and emerging
economies seeking greater representation to reflect their rising
contributions to the global economy.
The race to lead the World Bank was set in motion after
president Robert Zoellick announced on February 15 he was
stepping down at the end of his term on June 30.
The US Treasury that same day declared "the United States
continues its leadership role in the World Bank," as the largest
shareholder, and would announce its candidate "in the coming
Since then, the Treasury has declined to comment on the
Clinton has long been among the most circulated names
rumored to be under consideration by President Barack Obama,
along with UN ambassador Susan Rice, Democratic Senator John
Kerry and former Treasury secretary Larry Summers.
Though Clinton repeatedly has insisted she is not interested
in the job, it is highly possible that she may give in to White
House pressure, the source said.
If not, "Rice's prospects seem the strongest," the source
said, and "Summers hasn't been totally ruled out."
Another American, economist Jeffrey Sachs, has garnered
support for his self-declared candidacy in small developing
Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia
University, has a decades-long career in development and poverty
eradication and headed the United Nations's Millennium
Development Goals project.
A candidate must be presented by the Bank's 25 executive
directors, or by governors through the director representing them
on the executive board.
The World Bank said that if there are more than three
candidates, it will release a short list of three candidates but
did not indicate the timing of the publication.