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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Wolfowitz scandal 'needs urgency'
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz at the press conference
Mr Wolfowitz has apologised for his mistake

The pressure on World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz has increased after the bank's directors vow to deal "urgently" with the scandal enveloping him.

Mr Wolfowitz is facing calls to quit after admitting that he helped his partner win a promotion and pay rise.

The bank's board of directors have said they will convene a group to deal with the matter, though no timetable has been set and the outcome is uncertain.

The US, which appoints the bank's head, said it still supports Mr Wolfowitz.

Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said that the President of the US George W Bush "has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz".

However, Ms Perino said it was appropriate to let the board of director's review process take place.

'Urgent'

The World Bank's 24-member board said that the situation regarding the fate of the former US deputy defence chief should be dealt with, "urgently, effectively and in an orderly manner".

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz
The US names the head of the World Bank

On Thursday, Mr Wolfowitz was told directly by one of his two deputies, Graeme Wheeler from New Zealand, to step down at a session attended by senior staff, according to sources quoted by French news agency AFP.

Senior managers from Latin America and Asia apparently sided with Mr Wheeler, but officials from the bank's Middle East and Africa division backed Mr Wolfowitz' intentions to stay on as president of the World Bank.

Earlier in the week, Mr Wolfowitz vowed to continue what he called "important work".

"I believe in the mission of this organisation and I believe that I can carry it out," he said on Monday.

Helping hand?

The problems surrounding Mr Wolfowitz stem from his admission that he helped his partner, Shaha Riza, win a promotion and pay rise when she was seconded to the US State Department from the World Bank.

Ms Riza went to the State Department to avoid a conflict of interest when Mr Wolfowitz started as president of the World Bank.

Mr Wolfowitz has issued a statement apologising for the problems that have arisen regarding Ms Riza's transfer.

The former deputy defence chief was a controversial choice to head up the World Bank, with many critics accusing him of playing a leading role in the US decision to invade Iraq.


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