Switzerland open to non-European IMF chief

22nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland is open to the idea of a non-European to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the head of the International Monetary Fund, the Swiss member of the IMF board of directors said Sunday.

"Switzerland does not back a European out of hand," Rene Weber said in an interview with the German-language weekly Sonntag.

"I am not convinced by the argument that having a European director general of the IMF is especially important at this time because the institution was very involved in addressing the European debt crisis," he said.

"On the contrary, it could be a positive thing if an outside person points out the weaknesses within the euro zone," he said.

Weber is on the IMF's 24-member board of directors which must designate a successor by June 30 to Strauss-Kahn, who resigned to face sexual assault charges in New York.

Under a long-standing arrangement between Europe and the United States, a European has always held the top IMF job while an American leads its sister institution, the World Bank.

But emerging powers China and Brazil are calling for an end to the arrangement to give an opportunity to a candidate from a developing nation.

However, developing countries have not coalesced behind one individual, while French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as Europe's choice to lead the IMF despite a French judicial probe into alleged abuse of power.

Lagarde, 55, already the first woman finance minister of a Group of Seven country, would become the first woman to head the IMF.

© 2011 AFP

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