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Lagarde Seeks to Win Backing From Africa in Campaign to Head IMF

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde arrived at the African Development Bank’s annual meeting to rally support for her campaign to head the International Monetary Fund.

“I’m going to meet our African colleagues,” she told reporters in Lisbon today before heading into closed talks.

Lagarde is due to meet Moroccan Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, Mauritian Finance Minister Pravind Jugnauth, Guinea-Bissau Finance Minister Helena Embalo and Burundi Finance Minister Clotilde Nizigama. A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. local time.

Asked about the outcome of a French court ruling on whether to investigate her for abuse of power, Lagarde said: “I’m always confident.”

The court is considering whether to examine if Lagarde abused her position in 2007 when she sent a case involving a supporter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to arbitration. Her action resulted in a 385 million-euro ($558 million) award to businessman Bernard Tapie, who was once a minister in a Socialist French government. Lagarde has denied wrongdoing.

The court will probably delay until next month a decision on whether to proceed with an investigation or close the file, Le Monde newspaper reported in yesterday’s edition.

Some emerging-market countries have urged an end to the convention of naming World Bank presidents from the U.S. and the head of the IMF from Europe. The 187-member IMF aims to pick a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the end of June, after he resigned last month following his arrest in New York on charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.

Concern is “not about the candidature; it’s mainly about the process and the criteria” for selecting the candidate, South African Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said in an interview in Lisbon. “It’s a process that should be dealt with under calmer conditions. While we are trying to discuss processes, we have an urgent situation here where the position needs to be filled.”

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