Colombia’s former finance minister has blamed the failure of his bid to lead the World Bank on a lack of support from his home country.
The global finance institution chose Korean-American health expert Jim Yong Kim as its new president Monday after Colombian academic and ex-politician Jose Antonio Ocampo pulled out of the race Friday.
Speaking about his decision to withdraw, Ocampo said, “It is clear that the process is shifting from a strict merit-based competition, in which my candidacy stood on strong grounds, into a more political-oriented exercise.”
“In this process, I stand on weaker grounds due to the lack of open support from the government of my home country, Colombia,” he added.
Colombian Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry told press last month that Ocampo stood little chance of winning the post because another Colombian already headed the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank.
Ocampo had remained confident, saying three weeks ago he thought he had a “real chance” of success. His bid was supported by leading developing economies such as South Africa and Brazil, keen to get an “outsider” into a top position at the World Bank, which has been headed by the United States ever since its creation.
His withdrawal left Yong Kim to go head to head with Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to replace incumbent Robert Zoellick.
The World Bank presidency has always been held by a U.S. citizen since the institution was established in 1944 to aid post-World War Two recovery.
Following his departure from the race Ocampo supported the bid of Okonjo-Iweala.
“I am proud that Dr. Ocampo and I have helped make history by changing the way that World Bank presidential elections are contested,” the Nigerian Finance minister said in a statement.
This year’s election was the first time developing world candidates had thrown their hat in to the ring.