BOGOTA, March 22 Colombia said on Thursday it
does not see the candidacy of former finance minister Jose
Antonio Ocampo to head the World Bank as viable, throwing into
question whether he will be nominated for the post as a Friday
Brazil and South Africa are keen to tap Ocampo and Nigeria's
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as candidates to lead the World Bank,
sources told Reuters on Wednesday, the first concerted challenge
to the U.S. grip on the multilateral lending agency's top job.
South Africa called a news conference for Friday at which it
will announce Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy for the World Bank's top
job. Nominations for the World Bank presidency close at 6 p.m.
EST (2200 GMT)
But Colombian Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry said
Ocampo stood little chance of winning the post because another
Colombian already heads the Washington-based Inter-American
He said the Andean nation was focused on a bid at the
International Labor Organization.
"The candidacy of (Colombia's Vice President) Angelino
Garzon for the president of the International Labor Organization
has a high probability of success," Echeverry told reporters.
"The Colombian government has to concentrate exclusively on
a candidate that has possibilities of success, and so we should
concentrate on the candidacy of the vice president," he added.
The Inter-American Development Bank is currently led by Luis
Alberto Moreno, who is Colombian.
Brazil, which chairs a constituency of Latin American
countries including Colombia on the World Bank Board, cannot
nominate Ocampo without Colombia's backing.
A source with knowledge of the plans said Ocampo's
nomination was still being discussed.
Ocampo was finance minister during the government of
Colombian President Ernesto Samper and later became executive
secretary for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean, the United Nations' regional economic body.
The United States has held the World Bank presidency since
its founding after World War Two, while a European has always
led its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund.
The United States has yet to publicly identify a nominee to
succeed Robert Zoellick, who plans to step down when his term
expires at the end of June.
(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Lesley Wroughton; writing by
Brian Ellsworth; editing by Todd Eastham)