London: Outgoing president of World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, denied his actions were the reason for his departure and blamed an overheated atmosphere at the bank and in the media for forcing him to resign.
Wolfowitz, who has announced he will step down June 30, told BBC that he was pleased the bank’s board had accepted that he had acted ethically, and in good faith in his handling of a generous compensation package for his girlfriend and bank employee Shaha Riza in 2005.
“I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don’t think I could have accomplished what I wanted to for the people I really care about,” he said.
Traditionally, the United States which is the bank’s largest financial contributor has been selecting an American to run the institution. US President George W Bush’s selection of Wolfowitz in 2005 stunned many overseas officials, especially Europeans who were upset that the president would tap his No. 2 official at the Pentagon and a key architect of the Iraq war to run the bank.
While Wolfowitz has denied that his decision to leave was in any way influenced by an apparent lack of support from the bank’s employees, he agrees that the media has played a role in over hyping the entire incident and putting pressure on him to quit.
“People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend.”
According to him, reducing poverty in Africa was the most important challenge facing the bank in the coming five years. He said the continent had been left behind in what had been spectacular development success in other regions, such as east Asia or India.