US may accept Wolfowitz's resignation: report
May 16, 2007 - 9:22:29 PM
Washington, May 16 - In a major shift, the US has signalled it would consider a change in leadership at the World Bank if Paul Wolfowitz decides to resign voluntarily, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Until now, the White House had voiced unwavering support for the besieged World Bank president, but US officials Tuesday also suggested Wolfowitz's ability to lead the institution may be fading, said the report.
The US is willing to consider 'all options,' including Wolfowitz's resignation, as part of 'a resolution of the question of what is best for the future of the institution,' the report quoted a White House official as saying.
The White House overture could provide Wolfowitz with a face-saving way to bow out of the institution, allowing him to avoid being formally dismissed by the bank's board, said the report.
Down the road, it could also ensure the White House retains its influence in picking a successor, since the US would be seen as opening the door for Wolfowitz's departure, the report added.
Wolfowitz, former US deputy defence secretary, has been under fire for his involvement in a pay-and-promotion package for his girlfriend Shaha Riza, a former bank employee. The bank president has admitted granting Riza the package on advice from an ethics board at the bank.
Though prominent officials from Europe to Latin America have publicly called on Wolfowitz to resign, a decisive vote would break sharply with the bank's consensus minded culture, while presenting difficult questions over the procedure of appointing its president.
Never in the six decades of the World Bank's existence has the board removed the institution's leader, who by tradition is selected by the president of the US, the bank's largest shareholder.
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