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US nominates health expert for World Bank job
Jim Yong Kim, a physician by training, comes as surprise pick for international financial institution's top job.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2012 19:44
Kim's nomination comes amid criticism from developing countries about US stranglehold on the World Bank [Reuters]

The US has nominated Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College and a prominent health expert, to head the World Bank, a US official has said.

The successful candidate in the race will succeed World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who in February announced his intention to step down at the end of his term in June.

The Korean-born Kim is a physician by training and a prominent figure in global health and development circles.

Officials believe his experience will help counter criticism from developing countries that have grown weary of the US stranglehold on the World Bank presidency.

Barack Obama, the US president, took a strong personal interest in filling the World Bank vacancy after Zoellick’s announcement to quit.

Obama and his advisers considered more than a dozen candidates, including well-known figures in the administration such as Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, and Victoria Nuland, the state department spokeswoman.

The 187-nation International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, popularly called as World Bank, focuses on fighting poverty and promoting development.

Developing countries

It is a leading source of development loans for countries seeking financing to build dams, roads and other infrastructure projects.

Since its founding in 1944, the World Bank always has been headed by an American. Developing countries have long sought to gain more power in the World Bank as well as its sister lending organization, the International Monetary Fund, which always has been headed by a European.

While US and European officials have voiced support for efforts to diversify the selection process, the status quo remains, with France's Christine Lagarde holding the top spot at the IMF and Kim's candidacy for World Bank president all but certain to prevail.

Vote percentage

The actual selection will be made next month by the World Bank's 25-member executive board. The United States, as the world's largest economy, has the largest percentage of the votes.

Developing nations are expected to put forward as many as three candidates, including Jose Antonio Ocampo, a Columbia University professor who had been finance minister for Colombia, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's finance minister.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, has openly campaigned for the World Bank post, saying the position should be filled by an expert in development issues.

Sachs, however, said he supported Kim's nomination, describing the nominee as a world-class development leader.

"Dr Jim Kim is a superb nominee for the World Bank presidency. I support his nomination 100 percent. I congratulate the administration for nominating a world-class development leader for this position," said Sachs.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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