Ocampo opts out of World Bank bid, backs Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala

Jose Antonio OcampoJose Antonio Ocampo, former finance minister of Colombia, has ended his bid to become World Bank president, leaving two candidates to challenge a US stranglehold on the multilateral development bank.

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.

The board of the World Bank will meet on Monday to decide which of the two candidates in the field – US nominee Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American health expert or Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to head the World bank after the term of the current managing director Robert Zoellick ends in June.

While the US nominee Jim Yong Kim looks almost certain to secure the winning vote, the campaign for the World Bank's 12th president would be unprecedented in the sense that it was the first real challenge to the West's dominance on the Bank's board.

Ocampo, who was nominated by Brazil, said he lacked the necessary support and that his candidacy had been "handicapped" by lack of support from his own country.

Colombia, instead, is focusing on a bid for the presidency of the International Labor Organisation (ILO), where it hopes to have greater chances of success.