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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Africa fails in IMF vote demand
IMF managing director Rodrigo de Rato
Mr Rato was not swayed by the African demands
Developing countries have failed in their bid to win more voting power for Africa at the IMF and World Bank.

African leaders visiting Washington for the two organisation's meetings argued they have too little say in the running of the institutions.

Europe has 10 seats on the IMF and World Bank boards - but Africa, which receives almost half of all loans from the two bodies, has only two.

"Political consensus" was the way forward, said IMF head Rodrigo de Rato.

"A good deal of the operations of the fund and the bank are in Africa," said Malawi finance minister Goodall Gondwe.

"If the fund and bank are going to be effective, they need to hear an African point of view."

'Important issue'

Mr Gondwe said it had been understandable in the 1940s to have nine or ten executive directors in Europe, because in those days "the IMF really was for Europe".

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But "it probably does not make sense any more," he said.

And South African finance minister Trevor Manuel said altering the bank and fund's voting structure and board composition was "the most challenging of issues" for the lenders.

Addressing the demands, IMF managing director Rodrigo de Rato acknowledged many were "disappointed by the lack of progress in deciding how to change quotas and voting rights of developing countries to reflect evolution of the world economy".

"This is an important issue for the future of our institutions and membership should address it by continuing to seek a political consensus," he said.

'Best candidates'

The African calls came after ministers from the Group of 24 (G24) developing countries made clear their dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in re-allocating IMF votes.

What Africa needs more than anything else from the West is respect
Kpdodo, Mauritius

The ministers voiced "strong disappointment and concern that, after two-and-a-half years, no progress has been made on the issues of increasing basic votes and revising the quotas of developing countries in the IMF".

The G24 ministers said if World Bank President James Wolfensohn did not seek another five-year term, there should be "a transparent selection process (to choose a successor), with a view to attracting the best candidates regardless of nationality".

By tradition, the top post in the World Bank is reserved for an American while the job of IMF managing director goes to a European.

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