24 Mar 2012

US eyes another American to run World Bank

8:30 pm on 24 March 2012

United States' President Barack Obama has nominated a Korean-born American academic, Jim Yong Kim, to be the new head of the World Bank.

The World Bank has confirmed that Dr Kim is one of three candidates, along with a Nigerian and a Colombian, after former US official Robert Zoellick stands down at the end of June.

Mr Obama says Dr Kim has the experience to help the bank improve conditions around the world.

The nomination of the Dartmouth College president and development expert is a surprise as he was not mentioned as a contender over the past weeks, the BBC reports.

A US citizen has led the Bank since it was founded in 1944, but developing nations say it is time for change.

South Africa, Nigeria and Angola want the Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the top job. Jose Antonio Ocampo, a former Colombian finance minister, has also made the shortlist along with Dr Kim.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, a former high level executive at the World Bank, has expertise in economic development, but the US controls nearly 16% of votes on the board of the World Bank and European Union countries have a further 29%.

A former official at the World Health Organisation, Dr Kim is an expert on health in developing countries, a key area of the World Bank's work.

Mr Obama says it's time for the job to be done by "a development professional" rather than former diplomats, officials and bankers.

A long-standing informal deal has seen the World Bank run by an American and the International Monetary Fund by a European, but the BBC reports there have been increasing calls from around the world for such posts to be filled by a process that is open, transparent and based on merit.