September 17, 2014

Okonjo-Iweala loses World Bank presidency race to Jim Yong Kim

The United States’ candidate Jim Yong Kim has been appointed as the new President for the World Bank, beating out Nigerian candidate, finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and maintaining a long-standing US tradition of holding the World Bank top spot.

Reuters Photo - US President Barack Obama nominates Dartmouth President Jim Young Kim for World Bank top job

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, was the manager of the World Bank until last year when she left the position to take up the mantle as Nigeria’s finance minister. She was widely thought to be the better-qualified candidate and had the endorsement of South Africa, Angola and Nigeria.

The 57-year-old finance minister, 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.

She 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.

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

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