Manuel Won’t Stand as Candidate to Head IMF as Deadline Ends

South Africa’s former finance minister Trevor Manuel said he won’t stand as a candidate for managing director of the International Monetary Fund as a deadline for nominations closed today.

“I’m not available” for the position, Manuel told reporters in Johannesburg today. “I haven’t thrown my hat in the ring.”

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who has the backing of European Union nations, is the top candidate to take over from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month to fight a charge of attempted rape in New York. South Africa, which has lobbied for a non-European to head the fund, failed to win support from other emerging market countries for a joint candidate.

“More could have been done and more should have been done” by developing countries, Manuel said. “It would be most unfortunate if we ended up with a European who is bound by EU decisions about what to do,” given the credit crisis in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

Lagarde is in Lisbon today, holding talks with African finance ministers and central bank governors attending the annual meeting of the African Development Bank. She visited China, Brazil and India since last month to lobby support.

Morocco Support

Morocco backs Lagarde for the IMF job, Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said in an interview in Lisbon today. She is the “best candidate with the best profile,” he said.

“There clearly is a contradiction between an economy that is as globalized as the one that we live in now and institutions that are still premised on the events of 1944, when decisions about them were taken,” Manuel said.

Manuel, 55, earned plaudits from financial leaders around the globe for his handling of the economy. As finance minister for 13 years prior to heading the country’s National Planning Commission from May 2009, Manuel brought the budget into a surplus and introduced inflation targeting.

“Christine and I are friends, we get on amazingly well,” Manuel said. “She’s very competent, she’s very charming. But let’s depersonalize this issue.”

Lagarde is due to visit Saudi Arabia tomorrow and Egypt the following day.

Egypt’s government has yet to take an official position on who it will back as head of the IMF, said Gouda Abdel Khaleq, the minister for social justice.