The African Union Commission Wednesday, proposed that an African should be fronted as the next Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The AU says that selecting a non-European, and particularly someone from the developing world, would go a long way in increasing voice and representation at the IMF among these countries.
In addition, it says, selecting a non-European would also better reflect the dynamic changes occurring in the global economy, with a gradual shift in global production and demand away from the industrialised economies to developing regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The previous incumbent, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned after he was arrested in New York and charged with sexually assault.
As the legal battle heats up in Strauss-Kahn’s case, the AUC believes that it is “time for a long overdue change – time for an African,” as the world awaits the imminent appointment of a new IMF managing director.
An AU statement says that the French politician’s departure from the IMF presents a prime opportunity for the institution and the developed countries to deliver on their commitment to implement major reforms, including those relating to governance.
“In particular, there is now need to end the ‘informal agreement’ that the head of the IMF should be a European,” reads part of the statement.
“An opportunity has arisen to decisively take hold of the IMF governance reform agenda by selecting the next IMF Managing Director through an open, transparent and merit based selection process in accordance with recent discussions within the G20 in the wake of the recent global economic and financial crisis.”
However, Chrysologue Kubwimana, the vice-president of the Senate’s Commission on Economy and Finance, says there is little hope.
“Honestly, I wish the next one would be a Rwandan, but the wealthy nations – the USA and Europeans have more shares and influence. If we (Africa) vie for the post, they will beat us.”
“If it was an African, this would help us all, very much. It would be good even if the next head came from developing countries like Brazil, India, South Africa or even China.”
Kubwimana thinks that France’s Christine Lagarde will most likely be supported by the EU heavy weights to be new IMF chief.
“Ours is just a wish – they will support their own person and I think it will be the French finance minister [Christine] Lagarde,” the Senator concluded.
EU leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, have already signalled their support for Lagarde.
The AU urges that candidates from developing countries, and particularly from Africa, be given fair and equal opportunity for selection to the position of IMF boss.