A former Colombian finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, has withdrawn his candidacy from the race for the World Bank presidency to support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Mr. Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil to represent a constituency of Latin American countries on the World Bank board, is said to have agreed to withdraw from the race following an agreement among emerging and developing countries to come together to support a nominee.
“For me as an economist and as a Colombian, it has been a great honour to participate in this first open competition for the presidency of the World Bank,” Mr. Ocampo said in his withdrawal letter earlier today, which revealed the political undercurrents in the race for the successor of the outgoing president.
“I am pleased with the great success they have had from the Directors, evaluating my candidacy as one of the most strong, and the international public opinion, the ideas I have proposed throughout the debate, and now I hope to contribute to reform the World Bank in the coming years.
“However, as we approach the final phase of this process, it is clear that this is becoming no longer a competition on the merits of the candidates, but a political exercise. In this exercise I am at a disadvantage by the lack of support from the government of my country and how this has hindered the accumulation of political backing for my candidacy.
“Although this choice does not comply in a full feature an open, transparent and based on the merit of candidates, it has established the precedent that the election of President of the World Bank has to be different.
“In that spirit, for the reasons given above, and to facilitate the desired unity of the emerging and developing economies around a candidate, today I am retiring from the race to support the Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who I wish the best of luck in this final stage.”
It was gathered that a straw poll among World Bank directors representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries and Australia, are strongly in support of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala.
Mr. Ocampo’s withdrawal pits Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala directly against Barack Obama’s candidate, Jim Yong Kim, in a two horse race that promises to be a keen contest.
The selection of the new President by the 25-member board is scheduled for Friday, April 20 at the bank’s headquarters in Washington DC.