Multilateral Development Banks

Europeans press Wolfowitz to quit as bank chief

(May 10, 2007) “If this is true, it’s disappointing and outrageous. What is the point of giving us time to make a submission if they have already made up their minds?”

European leaders have told the Bush administration that Paul D. Wolfowitz must resign as president of the World Bank in order to avoid a vote next week by the bank’s board declaring that he no longer has its confidence to function as the bank’s leader, European officials said Thursday.

The officials said the board was drafting a resolution reflecting its view that the relationship between Mr. Wolfowitz and the governing body of the bank had “broken beyond repair.” They noted that, if he remained in office, some European countries were planning to reduce contributions to the World Bank that would aid poor countries and instead would channel the money to European agencies and other groups for distribution.

“The administration has been told that its battle to save Wolfowitz cannot be won,” said a European official, who like others who discussed the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is confidential. “His relationship with the board is not only damaged. It is broken.”

Bank officials say that the growing determination to oust Mr. Wolfowitz has led to a polling of the 24 members of the bank board and that a majority favor his ouster.

It was not clear why the board was not preparing simply to vote to oust Mr. Wolfowitz from his job. The bank’s governing articles say that a president ceases to hold his job if the board so decides.

Instead, the board appeared to be searching for language to attract a majority vote and also to represent the strongest possible rebuke that would serve as the functional equivalent of an ouster by making his situation untenable and all but halting his ability to travel, meet with foreign leaders, negotiate on policy or make personnel decisions.

Disclosure of the board’s plans came as Mr. Wolfowitz was preparing to make a last-ditch appeal to save his job, on the ground that the charges of misconduct and favoritism against him have been unfair and based on distortions.

Responding to the latest threat of a vote, Mr. Wolfowitz’s lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, said: “If this is true, it’s disappointing and outrageous. What is the point of giving us time to make a submission if they have already made up their minds?”

Read the full story [PDFver here] .

Robert S. BennettNew York Times May 10/2007

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