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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Wolfowitz takes up World Bank job
Paul Wolfowitz
Mr Wolfowitz aims to put "poverty reduction" above "democracy building"
Paul Wolfowitz has marked his first day as the new head of the World Bank by reaffirming his plan to focus primarily on reducing poverty in Africa.

In addition, he intends to tackle corruption and make poor countries feel more involved in the decision making process at the global lender.

Mr Wolfowitz added that although Africa would be his main focus, he would not forget other developing regions.

Some have attacked his appointment because of his role in the Iraq War.

Previously the US Deputy Defence Secretary and a key "hawk" in George W Bush's administration, he was one of the main architects of the plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Mr Wolfowitz has responded to the criticism by saying that poverty reduction rather than "democracy building" would be the core of his work as the World Bank's president.

A number of minor anti-Wolfowitz protests took place around the world to mark his first day in office.

'Despair to hope'

His pledge to better involve poor countries in the decision making process at the World Bank comes after repeated complaints from the G24 group of developing nations that there remained a "democratic deficit" at the organisation.

Anti-poverty activists protest to mark Mr Wolfowitz's first day in office
Mr Wolfowitz's appointment has had its opponents

Mr Wolfowitz will also seek to tackle corruption in both World Bank projects and within borrowing nations.

Reducing poverty in Africa will, however, be his most pressing concern.

"Africa has a dependence and need for the bank that stands out among all the many people who need what this bank has to offer," Mr Wolfowitz said.

"There is a long, long way to go but I would find nothing more satisfying than, at the end of my tenure at this institution, to feel that we have played a part in what hopefully could be a period when Africa went from a continent of despair, to a continent of hope."

Mr Wolfowitz replaces Australian-born James Wolfensohn, who led the World Bank for 10 years.

Wolfowitz first day tracker
01 Jun 05 |  ssi

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