Monday, April 23rd 2007 - 21:00 UTC

Wolfowitz “damaged his own credibility” and is urged to resign

Senior former World Bank employees have urged beleaguered president Paul Wolfowitz to resign arguing he can no longer be an effective leader. Wolfowitz has admitted having helped his girlfriend win a promotion and pay rise.

Time is up for Wolfowitz in the World Bank

More than 40 World Bank officials, including 18 former vice-presidents, published their call in an open letter to the Financial Times newspaper. They said Mr Wolfowitz had "lost the trust and respect of bank staff". Wolfowitz, who has apologized for his "mistake", has vowed to stay on to continue what he called "important work". He has said that he is confident he can carry out the World Bank's mission but the authors of the letter said "there is only one way for Wolfowitz to further the mission of the bank: he should resign". "He has damaged his own credibility on good governance - his flagship issue" insists the letter signed by among others, the former number two in the organization during the first year of Mr Wolfowitz's time at the WB, Shengman Zhang. The former senior officials warn that if Wolfowitz remains in office, he will "preside over a rudderless hulk". The letter comes as the group responsible for overseeing the workings of the World Bank, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), warned that the current crisis was already having a negative impact on the work of the multilateral lending agency in developing countries. The IEG statement will be presented to the Bank's board, which is expected to reach a decision on the fate of Mr Wolfowitz later this week. The row concerns events that occurred shortly after Mr Wolfowitz assumed his position at the World Bank. His girlfriend, Libyan-born Shaha Riza, was seconded from the World Bank to the US State Department to avoid creating a conflict of interest. There she received promotions and pay rises which the bank's staff association say were "grossly out of line" with bank rules. In spite of Wolfowitz claims the bank's executive board has said that it did not give its approval for Ms Riza's wage rise. However Wolfowitz has received on more than an occasion full support from US President George Bush for his "excellent job" as head of the bank.

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