Britain backs France's Lagarde to head IMF

21st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain on Saturday backed French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to be the new head of the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned to fight US sexual assault charges.

Lagarde's British counterpart George Osborne said in a statement: "On the basis of merit, I believe Christine is the outstanding candidate for the IMF -- and that's why Britain will back her.

"She's shown real international leadership as chair of the G20 finance ministers this year. She has also been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means.

"We support her because she's the best person for the job, but I also personally think it would be a very good thing to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60-year history".

The announcement by Osborne, a Conservative, will come as a blow to former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who won international praise for his handling of the financial crisis and was mooted as a possible future IMF chief.

Lagarde, 55, is already the odds-on favorite to replace her compatriot Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF. She would become the first woman to head the IMF.

Strauss-Kahn resigned on Thursday, five days after being arrested in New York on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. He has protested his innocence and said he wants to devote all his energy to fighting his case.

Under a longstanding deal between Europe and the United States, a European has always held the top IMF job while an American leads the World Bank, although emerging powers China and Brazil are calling for an end to the tie-up.

© 2011 AFP

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