Lagarde named first woman IMF head

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France's Christine Lagarde was named Tuesday to be the first-ever female chief of the IMF, facing an immediate crisis as violent Greek anti-austerity protests rocked eurozone stability.

The French finance minister, widely respected for her leadership during Europe's financial crisis over the past three years, was chosen to replace fellow Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned abruptly on May 18 after being arrested in New York for the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid.

"The executive board of the International Monetary Fund today selected Christine Lagarde to serve as IMF managing director and madame chairman of the executive board for a five-year term starting on July 5, 2011," the Fund said in a statement.

Lagarde, it said, "is the first woman named to the top IMF post since the institution's inception in 1944."

The 24-member board called both Lagarde and her rival for the position, Mexican central banker Agustin Carstens, "well-qualified candidates" and that it decided on Lagarde by consensus.

© 2011 AFP

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