BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombian economist Jose Antonio Ocampo withdrew Friday from the race to lead the World Bank, calling the process a “political exercise” unrelated to candidate merits, Colombian media reported.
The former Colombian finance minister also blamed lack of formal support from his own government, saying that had hindered his ability to garner the backing of other countries, according to a statement published by the Colombian media.
“It is clear that this is not based on the merits of the candidates but is a political exercise,” he said in the statement, referring to the widespread expectation that the US candidate would be chosen.
“In this I am at a disadvantage by the lack of support from my own government and how this has prevented me from garnering political support for my candidacy.”
Ocampo, currently professor at Columbia University in New York and always considered a dark horse in the three-way race, said he would give his support to Nigeria’s finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala “to facilitate the desired unity of the emerging and developing economies around one candidate.”
But US-nominated Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health specialist and university president, is expected to easily gain the post with the overwhelming backing of the Bank’s largest shareholders, the United States, and Japan and the European bloc.
By tacit agreement with the Europeans dating to the founding of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 1944, Washington chooses the Bank’s head, and has always chosen an American.
This year, though, for the first time that tradition has met a challenge with the nominations of Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala.
After having interviewed all three candidates this week, Bank directors are expected to decide next week on who will replace outgoing President Robert Zoellick.