Strauss-Kahn to be new chief of 63-year old IMF

Strauss-Kahn to be new chief of 63-year old IMF


Washington: The International Monetary Fund appears poised to name Dominique Strauss-Kahn managing directortoday, handing the Frenchman the helm of a struggling multilateral institution.

Backed by the European Union and the United States, the former French Socialist finance minister is virtually assured to succeed IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato, who is stepping down next month.

The change in leadership comes as the 63-year-old IMF, which bails out countries in crisis, faces its own crisis of relevancy and legitimacy in a world flush with cash and access to capital.

Strauss-Kahn was awaiting the announcement in Santiago, Chile, making what he called a symbolic visit to underscore his pledge to give more voice to emerging countries if elected.

“The fact that I am here with you in Chile, in Latin America, to wait perhaps for this news, is for me a good symbol that I would like to share with you," he said at a conference organized by a leftist think tank.

Has backing of Brazil and Argentina

Brazil, the regional powerhouse, and Argentina have officially backed the 58-year-old EU candidate who was first proposed by the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.

His sole rival is Russia’s candidate, Josef Tosovsky, a former Czech central bank chief who was briefly prime minister of the Czech Republic.

US has the lion’s share of IMF voting clout, at 16.83% and the 27-nation EU controls a combined 32.09%. By comparison, Russia holds 2.70% but says Tosovsky, who will be 57 Friday, has wide support in the developing world.

The French government tried walking a fine line of prudence on the eve of the announcement. “Political experience leads us to say that one should never say one is confident before an election," said David Martinon, a spokesman for the French presidency.

However, he noted that “the number of supporters is quite large," citing “the support of US, India, Brazil and a certain number of big emerging countries, in addition to the support of the EU, which in itself is large."

The board is to announce its decision Friday after a secret ballot.

Pressing agenda

* IMF has dire need to reform

* Rebuild relevance and legitimacy of IMF

* Complete process of reform undertaken by a year ago, which benefited China, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico

* To sort out the financial crisis that has emerged in the wake of economic powerhouses like China and Russia being flush with cash reserves and the need for IMF loans and their stringent conditions has declined sharply.

Rato, who has led the fund since May 2004, is expected to resign after the October 20-22 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington.