Africa

Wolfowitz resigns, ending long fight at World Bank

(May 17, 2007) The resignation, effective June 30, brings a dramatic conclusion to two days of negotiations between Mr. Wolfowitz and the bank board after weeks of turmoil.

By Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, May 17, 2007

Paul D. Wolfowitz, ending a furor over favoritism that blew up into a global fight over American leadership, announced his resignation as president of the World Bank Thursday evening after the bank’s board accepted his claim that his mistakes at the bank were made in good faith.

The decision came four days after a special investigative committee of the bank concluded that he had violated his contract by breaking ethical and governing rules in arranging the generous pay and promotion package for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005.

The resignation, effective June 30, brought a dramatic conclusion to two days of negotiations between Mr. Wolfowitz and the bank board after weeks of turmoil.

“He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that,” said the board’s directors in a statement issued Thursday night. “We also accept that others involved acted ethically and in good faith.”

In the carefully negotiated statement, the bank board praised Mr. Wolfowitz for his two years of service, particularly for his work in arranging debt relief and pressing for more assistance to poor countries, especially in Africa. They also cited Mr. Wolfowitz’s work in combating corruption, his signature issue.

Mr. Wolfowitz said he was grateful for the directors’ decision and, referring to the bank’s mission of helping the world’s poor, added: “Now it is necessary to find a way to move forward. To do that I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new leadership.”

Mr. Wolfowitz’s negotiated departure averted what threatened to become a bitter rupture between the United States and its economic partners at an institution established after World War II. The World Bank channels $22 billion in loans and grants a year to poor countries.

But he left behind a place that must heal its divisions and overhaul a flawed, cumbersome structure that had allowed the controversy over Mr. Wolfowitz to spread out of control.

Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, May 17, 2007

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