Lagarde likely favourite for IMF top job

France's finance minister has strong backing as nominations to head International Monetary Fund are set to close.

    Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, is seen as the favourite to take the job [Reuters]

    Nominations for the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are due to close on Friday, with Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister, the favourite to win.

    The 55-year-old has the support of most European governments to take over  the economic body, but some emerging market countries have called for someone outside the region to head the IMF.

    Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, is Lagarde's main rival with some experts saying he is better qualified for the job. However the banker has not been able to gather enough support and has failed to secure solid backing from South America.

    "In these circumstances it's difficult to win against Christine Lagarde," Colin Bradford, a Brookings Institution economist, told the AFP news agency.

    "Obviously she's a good candidate. Carstens has not been able to gather enough support."

    Other contenders

    Grigory Marchenko, the head of Kazakhstan's central bank, is also expected to be in the running.

    Trevor Manuel, a South African former finance minister, was a reported contender after a magazine said he had won the backing of the country's president.

    But Manuel said later on Friday that he was not running for the post.

    "It is important to understand that decisions take place in the context of world politics. Against that backdrop, I have decided not to avail myself," he said.

    Under a tacit transatlantic agreement, the IMF leadership has been held by a European since its founding in 1945, while an American has occupied the top job at the World Bank.

    Once nominations are in, the IMF will begin a two-week process to choose its next head.

    The job became vacant after Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former chief, was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel chamber maid in New York. He has denied the charges.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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