Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo ended his bid to become World Bank president on Friday, leaving two candidates in an unprecedented challenge to US control of the global development institution.
With the board of the World Bank to meet on Monday to pick a new president, Ocampo said he hoped emerging-market nations would rally behind Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a race that he said had turned highly political.
Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank managing director, is now the sole candidate from developing nations in a race against US nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert who appears almost certain to secure the post.
Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil, said his candidacy had been handicapped by a lack of support from his own country. Colombia said last month it was focusing on a bid for the presidency of the International Labour Organization, where it had a greater change of success.
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, he said in a statement.
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.
Ocampo, now the director of economic and political development at Columbia University in New York, said he did not believe the selection process had been conducted in a fully open, transparent and merit-based fashion, but it had established a strong precedent.
However, his decision to leave the race does not mean all developing countries will support Okonjo-Iweala in a straw poll on Monday when the World Bank board tries to find consensus on a successor to Robert Zoellick, who is departing in June.
Meanwhile Russia said it will support US nominee Yong Kim. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov made the announcement after meeting the candidate, who is in Moscow on his world tour to seek support.
Taking into account Mr. Kim's considerable professional qualities as well as his experience and knowledge, the Russian Federation will support the candidacy of Jim Yong Kim during the voting by the bank's board of directors, the Russian Finance Ministry said in a statement.