US health expert to lead World Bank16/04/2012 - 19:08:48
American Jim Yong Kim has been chosen to be the next president of the World Bank.
His selection today extends the US’s hold on the top job at the 187-nation development agency.
Mr Kim, a surprise nominee of President Barack Obama, was selected in a vote by the World Bank’s 25-member executive board. He will succeed Robert Zoellick who is stepping down after a five-year term.
Developing nations waged an unsuccessful challenge to Mr Kim, 52, a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/Aids and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Mr Kim’s selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who have typically been political, legal or economic figures.
The World Bank raises money from its member nations and borrows from investors to provide low-cost loans to states.
Developing countries had put forward two candidates for the post: Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo.
Both argued that it was time to break the US’s hold on the World Bank job and provide a voice for other, less-developed countries.
Mr Kim will begin a five-year term in July.
Born in South Korea, Mr Kim moved to the US with his family at age 5. His selection extends the practice of Americans leading the World Bank, dating to the institution’s founding in 1944.
Today Mr Kim was in Lima, Peru, on the latest stop in a global tour that has taken him to Africa, Asia and Latin America to try to build support.
He and the other candidates were interviewed by the World Bank’s board last week. In his statement to the board, Mr Kim said he had worked throughout his career for “reform and change” and would continue those efforts at the World Bank.
Obama’s announcement March 23 that Mr Kim would be the US nominee for the World Bank post came as a surprise. His name had not been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Those more often mentioned were Larry Summers who had led the White House economic council earlier in the Obama administration, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But Mr Kim’s nomination won widespread praise because of his extensive experience in working to improve health in the poorest countries. In the 1990s Mr Kim defied sceptics to find a cost-effective way to fight tuberculosis in the slums of South America. He also began a programme that has treated millions of Africans for HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
Since 2009 Mr Kim has been president of Dartmouth College in the US state of New Hampshire.
The World Bank focuses on fighting poverty and promoting development. In recent decades it has focused on poor nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is a leading source of development loans for financing to build dams, road and other projects.
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