* Developing nations seek sole candidate
* BRICS to have joint support decision as soon as Friday
* Russia backs U.S. nominee Kim
By Lesley Wroughton and Tiago Pariz
WASHINGTON/BRASILIA, April 13 Former Colombian
finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is set to withdraw his
nomination for the World Bank presidency on Friday as developing
nations try to coalesce around one nominee to challenge the
United States for the job, three sources said.
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 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
appears almost certain to win the post.
In a straw poll earlier this week, World Bank directors
representing the Group of 11, which includes emerging countries
and Australia, backed Okonjo-Iweala as the sole emerging market
candidate, the sources said.
The decision to back Okonjo-Iweala does not mean that all
developing countries will support her in the final decision on
Monday when the World Bank board meets to find consensus on a
successor to Robert Zoellick, who is departing in June.
Indeed, the promise of a united front from emerging markets
evaporated on Friday when Russia said it would support Kim,
becoming the first major emerging economy to do so.
"Taking into account Mr. Kim's considerable professional
qualities as well as his experience and knowledge, the Russian
Federation will support the candidacy of Jim Yong Kim during the
voting by the bank's board of directors," the Russian Finance
Ministry said in a statement.
With their candidates, emerging market nations are seeking
to challenge U.S. leadership at the bank to increase their
influence in global economic institutions long controlled by
Under a informal agreement, the World Bank has always been
headed by an American and the IMF by a European.
While Kim is still the favorite 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 favorable to their interests. It also increases
their odds of winning senior jobs in the future.
The final decision could come down to political
Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said earlier on
Friday that that the BRICS group of emerging market countries,
which includes Russian, India, China and South Africa, was
likely to make a joint decision as soon as Friday on who to
support for the job.
Mantega told reporters the five countries were still
discussing which candidate they would support.
After meeting with Mantega on Thursday, Ocampo said
developing nations wanted a single candidate to challenge Kim.