WASHINGTON, March 29, 2012 (AFP) - The United States lobbied hard for its
World Bank candidate Jim Yong Kim as he began a global campaign Thursday
facing an unprecedented challenge from two developing nation candidates.
As the Korean-American physician embarked on a global charm offensive,
meeting African Union leaders in Ethiopia, 186 World Bank member countries
were sent a letter from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extolling Kim's
The letter, obtained by AFP, said President Barack Obama picked Kim
"because he brings the combination of experience, innovation, and drive that
will best serve the Bank in carrying out its critical mission."
Kim, known for his work on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, has demonstrated
leadership as president of the prestigious university, Dartmouth College and
leading large programs at the World Health Organization, Geithner said in a
letter dated Wednesday.
The letter was given to the 24 non-American executive directors -- who will
choose the next head of the bank -- to distribute to member states.
A nearly seven-decade-long carve-up has seen Americans lead the World Bank
and Europeans head the International Monetary Fund, but this year that US
hegemony has been challenged for the first time.
Two developing country candidates have thrown their hats in the ring,
seeking to reflect the rising contributions of emerging markets to the global
Respected Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday said the vote
was a test of rich nations' "hypocrisy."
The Nigerian finance minister and a former World Bank managing director
warned in a newspaper interview that the choice of the successor of American
Robert Zoellick would reveal the truth of rich nations' promises.
"I would really hold the Bretton Woods shareholders to their word, that
they want to change the way business is being done and want a merit-based,
open and transparent process for the presidency," Okonjo-Iweala told the
"I just want to see whether people just say things with their mouth that
they don't mean and what's the level of hypocrisy," she said. "So we want to
Jose Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian former finance minister, also is seeking
Meanwhile Kim met with the deputy chairman of the African Union Commission,
Erastus Mwencha, in Addis Ababa Thursday, in the first stop of what the
administration has dubbed a "global listening tour."
Kim "solicited the AU's priorities for Africa's economic integration and
development" and "discussed how the World Bank can work in partnership with
the AU to support these goals," the Treasury Department said.
Kim is scheduled to travel through April 9 to a number of countries that
are important players in the Bank: China, Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil
The US nominee is all-but-certain to win the presidency.
With Zoellick, a former US diplomat, stepping down at the end of his
five-year term in June, the Bank says it wants to announce his successor by
its April 20-22 meetings with the IMF.