who will be next World Bank President What will they do


"European battle lines hardening". A strong piece in the Washington Post outlines the anger of Europeans and predicts that "a fight will rage for several weeks" before the Bank board decides whether to appoint Wolfowitz. It outlines "fresh denunciations in European capitals, where critics fumed that Washington had failed to consult other member countries of the bank before springing its choice on them".

The Post features the comments of an unnamed European Executive Director saying: ""The Treasury Department is trying to give the impression that a deal is done, but there is no deal done. No one has any question about [Wolfowitz's] intellect, but the problem is, he's the face of a certain American hegemony, in the opinion of many European directors, and that does not fit the role of the bank."

The US Treasury is disputing the Europeans' claims that they were not consulted. The Post records Treasury claims that it "reached agreement with policymakers in other countries that the next World Bank president should have qualities such as management experience, international diplomatic experience and commitment to development", and that "Paul Wolfowitz meets and exceeds each and all of these criteria." The problem with this argument, as exposed by us on Wednesday, is that the criteria are far too broad to amount to a watertight role profile. And the point the Europeans and others are making is that at shortlisting stage they should have had a say on whether the potential US candidates fit the bill.

The Post also notes the controversy among Bank staff over Wolfowitz's reported romantic relationship with Shaha Riza, an Arab feminist who works as a communications adviser in the bank's Middle East and North Africa department. A Wolfowitz spokesman told the Post "needless to say, if a personal relationship presents a potential conflict of interest, I will comply with bank policies to resolve the issue."

The piece does predict that Wolfowitz will get the job in the end, but that the process might last until the Bank/Fund Spring Meetings on 16-17 April.

Alex Wilks ~ March 18, 2005

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