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Lagarde makes case in Brazil for IMF leadership candidacy

By Marco Sibaja
Associated Press / May 31, 2011

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BRASILIA — France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, met with her Brazilian counterpart yesterday to promote her candidacy to head the International Monetary Fund and said she backed the institution’s reforms giving developing nations more of a voice in its operations.

Despite the overture, Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, said his country would examine all the candidates for the top job before throwing its support behind anyone. The only other declared candidate, Mexico’s central bank governor, Agustin Carstens, plans to visit Brazil later this week.

Lagarde, who would be the IMF’s first female leader, has emerged as the odds-on favorite to replace former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France, who quit May 18 after he was accused of sexually attacking a New York hotel maid. He has denied the allegations.

Lagarde said the IMF should continue reforms giving developing countries a greater share of votes in the institution, among other measures.

At a press conference, Lagarde said: “I will ensure that the Fund represents the diversity of all its members.’’

Lagarde is touring the globe’s big developing powers in anticipation that her appointment may increase tensions with nations such as Brazil and China that argue countries outside of Europe should be allowed to lead the organization.

The decision on the next IMF leader is expected by the end of June. It will be made by the agency’s 24-member executive board, whose officials represent the 187 IMF member countries.

The Brazilian finance minister said the IMF should be open to breaking with longstanding tradition, in which the IMF is led by a European while the United States names a head for sister organization the World Bank.