Colombia's Ocampo withdraws from World Bank challenge

WASHINGTON Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:48pm EDT

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

The World Bank presidential nominee Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia is seen during a meeting with Brazil's Finance Minsiter Guido Mantega at the Ministry of Finance in Brasilia April 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo said Friday he was withdrawing his candidacy for World Bank president to allow developing nations to rally behind a single nominee to challenge the United States for the job.

Ocampo said Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would be "an excellent candidate for the position."

"As we move into the final phase, it is clear that the process is shifting from a strict merit-based competition, in which my candidacy stood on strong grounds, into a more political-orientated exercise," Ocampo said in a statement.

"In this process, I stand on weaker grounds due to the lack of open support from the government of my home country, Colombia, and how that has handicapped the gathering of stronger political support for my candidacy," he added.

(Reporting By Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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