20 May 2011

New IMF head wanted promptly

9:33 am on 20 May 2011

The European Union says a successor must be found promptly to head the International Monetary Fund, to end a leadership vacuum at the agency.

Managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned on Wednesday after being charged with sexually assaulting a hotel employee in New York on 14 May.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany says with the resignation coming before the end of Mr Strauss-Kahn's term, there is an argument in favour of naming another European.

She said a European was needed in light of the eurozone's problems.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy says the tradition is that the Americans have the World Bank and the Europeans the IMF.

He says the tradition can be changed, but not now.

As a block, Europe contributes 30% of the IMF's funding. The United States and Asia each contribute 16%.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner says he wants an open and transparent process that leds to a prompt succession.

The European Commission says member countries should agree on a strong candidate: Christine Lagarde of France is regarded as the frontrunner.

But the BBC reports South Africa, Brazil and Mexico are urging the IMF to abandon the tradition of reserving the post for a European. Brazil says that era is ''over''.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, is in prison in the United States, accused of trying to rape a hotel employee in New York.

He denies the charges and was granted bail of $US1 million at a court in Manhattan on Thursday. His first application was rejected on Monday.