By Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja


The chances of Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the race for the World Bank presidential race appeared brighter yesterday following reports that former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is set to withdraw for her.
Ocampo’s withdrawal is a product of an agreement among emerging and developing countries to coalesce around one nominee, three sources said.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, would remain as the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert, who is seen as the favourite to win the race.

A straw poll among World Bank directors, representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries and Australia, backed Okonjo-Iweala, the sources said.

Emerging market nations are seeking to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their influence in global economic institutions long controlled by rich nations.

While Kim is still the favourite to win the World Bank presidency because of his backing from the United States and European countries, a rigorous challenge from emerging market countries could put them in a stronger position to extract concessions favourable to their interests and also increase their odds of winning senior jobs in the future.

Earlier, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said that the BRICS group of emerging market countries were to  a joint decision on who to support for the World Bank top post as soon as last night.

Mantega told reporters that the five countries were still discussing which candidate they would support. The BRICS group also includes Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Ocampo, who met with Mantega on Thursday, said developing nations wanted a single candidate to challenge Kim.


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