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Former World Bank Managers Endorse Okonjo-Iweala to Lead Lender

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- A group of former World Bank officials including one-time chief economist Francois Bourguignon said it supports Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy to become the lender’s president.

The 39 former managers, in a letter sent to the bank’s members, cited Okonjo-Iweala’s “deep experience in international and national issues of economic management” and said she has the ability to increase the bank’s effectiveness. Okonjo-Iweala, who was a managing director at the bank until last August, “would hit the ground running and get things done from the start,” the letter said.

Challenges for the future president range from international fundraising to brokering agreements on global issues, the former officials wrote. While all the three presidency candidates, including former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, have “strong qualifications,” Okonjo-Iweala’s skills cover the full spectrum of criteria, they said.

Uri Dadush, a former World Bank director of policy and one of the 39 signers, provided Bloomberg with a copy of the letter.

The U.S. is the bank’s largest shareholder and has always picked the bank’s president, a tradition that’s now being disputed by rival candidates. The U.S. nominee, Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, has received an endorsement from countries including Canada and Japan. Kim has been on a world tour to seek advice about priorities for the bank.

World Bank Decision

The World Bank has said it will interview the three candidates April 9-11 and plans to announce its decision the following week, according to board officials.

The former officials endorsing Okonjo-Iweala, who said they wrote in their personal capacities, include Mustapha Nabli, governor of Tunisia’s central bank, and Jean-Michel Severino, who headed France’s International Development Agency from 2001 to 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at

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