May 18, 2007 / 8:25 PM / 11 years ago

Wolfowitz trims daily role, plans staff outreach

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A day after resigning as World Bank president over an ethics scandal, Paul Wolfowitz on Friday withdrew from day-to-day decision-making, saying his biggest task before leaving on June 30 was to meet with staff.

In a letter to the board obtained by Reuters, Wolfowitz suggested that he leave the operations of the bank to his two top managing directors, including outside meetings.

He also said he may make a farewell journey to Africa but would first consult with the board.

His letter appeared to preempt a decision by the World Bank board expected later on Friday on a leadership transition.

His resignation on Thursday came after a committee found he broke ethical rules in awarding his companion a high-paying promotion in 2005, prompting outrage among staff, some of whom called for him to quit.

“Regardless of the emotions that most of us are probably feeling right now, I believe we must move forward in a spirit of forgiveness, both for the sake of each of us as individuals and for the sake of the bank group’s mission to serve the world’s poor,” Wolfowitz said in the letter.

Wolfowitz said he was prepared to assist on a few strategic issues, such as the 2008 budget where he had been deeply involved in decision-making, adding: “But otherwise I would plan to leave the day-to-day work of the board meetings to the MDs.”

One of Wolfowitz’s two managing directors, Graeme Wheeler, had urged Wolfowitz to resign to end the crisis caused by the promotion deal for World Bank Middle East expert Shaha Riza.

His other deputy, Juan Jose Daboub, has been mired in controversy over leaked documents showed he ordered staff to delete any references to family planning in a strategy for Madagascar, an island nation east of Africa.

Wolfowitz said he would try and reach out to meet individually with staff.

“After reaching a difficult consensus yesterday, it is vitally important that we work together to restore calm and confidence and encourage the staff to focus on their important work,” Wolfowitz said, adding that he had been flooded with phone calls of support from staff and people he met in his two years at the bank.

However, employee comments posted on an internal Web site suggested little appetite to speak with the former deputy U.S. defense secretary.

“Please just leave. You can take all your loyal employees with you. Who are you kidding?” one anonymous employee wrote.

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