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Ex-officials back Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head World Bank

In an open letter 39 former managers and economists say Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the best choice.

Nigeria world bank 12 04 05Enlarge
Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announcing her decision to join the race for the top World Bank job on Mar. 23. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of ex-World Bank officials have issued an open letter backing Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Africa's candidate to lead the bank.

According to AFP, 39 former managers and economists called on the Bank's executive board to make their decision on merit. They include Mustapha Nabli, governor of Tunisia’s central bank, and Jean-Michel Severino, who headed France’s International Development Agency from 2001 to 2010, according to Bloomberg.

Their letter reads: "We believe that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has outstanding qualifications across the full range of relevant criteria," and adds that Okonjo-Iweala, who was a managing director at the World Bank until last August, “would hit the ground running and get things done from the start,” the letter said.

News.com.au explains that the US picks the World Bank president, always an American, and Europe puts a European at the helm of the Bank's sister institution, the International Monetary Fund.

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Okonjo-Iweala has also received support from a group of prominent African business leaders and philanthropists.

The Graca Machel Trust, established by Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela who is also known for her humanitarian work, issued a statement saying Okonjo-Iweala "is the right person, at the right time and in the right place."

"Her early life is that of the suffering masses of the poor that populate our world... Her education comes from the finest centers of learning in the world, on a subject, economics, that defines the parameters for development," said the statement, signed by a range of business and civil society figures, including Hadeel Ibrahim, director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Okonjo-Iweala is competing for the role against the American President of Dartmouth College Jim Yong Kim, and the Colombian-born, Colombia University professor Jose Antonio Ocampo, who has been nominated by Brazil.

All Africa says that the leaders of Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently called for a review of the weighted voting system that gives Europe, the US and Japan 54 per cent of the votes in the selection of the World Bank president. The US is the bank’s largest shareholder and has always picked the bank’s president.  This will be the first contested election in the history of the development institution, the New York Times says.

Board officials have reportedly told Bloomberg that the Bank will interview the three candidates between Apr. 9-11 and plans to announce its decision the following week.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/nigeria/120404/ex-officials-back-nigerian-finance-minister-ngozi-okonjo