Candidates vie for IMF top job

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A French minister, Kazakh and Mexican central bankers and possibly South Africa's planning minister were expected to be on the shortlist when nominations close late Friday for managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

While a European has always led the world's key lender to governments in financial straits, the May 18 resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn has given rise to calls for someone from the emerging economies to be appointed.

Here are the possible nominees:

CHRISTINE LAGARDE: The 55-year-old French finance minister, lawyer and former Baker & McKenzie executive has built solid alliances across the leading nations of the G20 during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. With Europe determined to hold onto the job, she confirmed her candidacy with the region's backing very early and embarked on a global charm tour, stressing her determination to run the IMF for all countries and to address the under-representation of emerging economic giants in the Fund. Her supporters say she will be able to pick up quickly where Strauss-Kahn left off in Europe's crisis; her critics fault her nearness to the problems.

AGUSTIN CARSTENS: Lagarde's main challenger, the Mexican central bank governor 53, was to be in India Friday trying to garner Delhi's endorsement. Economist Carstens has a strong record in IMF activities, both on the receiving end as Mexico's finance minister, and as IMF deputy managing director from 2003-2006. He is credited with helping innovate IMF programs for countries needing support but not immediately in crisis. "Carstens has had more widespread and more lasting experience dealing with the range of issues that the IMF handles," said Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute. Not been as aggressive in campaigning as Lagarde, he failed in his initial bid to get backing from Mexico rival Brazil.

GRIGORY MARCHENKO: The least-known of the likely nominees, the Kazakh central bank chief, 52, told the Telegraph newspaper he learned of his nomination by text message from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the grouping of ex-Soviet states. He was seen as a candidate that could be accepted by emerging rivals China, Russia and India, he said. But given the strength of backing for Lagarde, and the lack of unity around any developing country candidate, he suggested he might not be in the mix when nominations close.

TREVOR MANUEL: South Africa's former finance minister and current planning minister, 55, has not openly campaigned for the job, but he could be a last-minute nominee after a push by African countries for one of their own in the job. An anti-apartheid activist in the 1980s, he was a member of Nelson Mandela's first cabinet in 1994, and a member of the executive committee of the African National Congress. On Thursday the African Union gave Manuel a possible boost, without naming him: "It is now time for a non-European, particularly an African, to be at the helm of the IMF," the group said.

© 2011 AFP

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