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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
Wolfowitz blames media for exit
Paul Wolfowitz
Mr Wolfowitz said the World Bank needed more African voices

The outgoing president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has told the BBC an "overheated" atmosphere at the bank and in the media forced him to resign.

Mr Wolfowitz stood down after a scandal over his role in winning a new pay and promotion package for his girlfriend.

In an interview, Mr Wolfowitz said the bank's board did accept that he had acted ethically, and in good faith.

He leaves the bank on 30 June after a presidency that was controversial both at the beginning and at the end.

His appointment was originally opposed by many European nations, who disapproved of his previous role as a senior Pentagon official and an architect of the Iraq war.

Vindication

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Mr Wolfowitz denied that his own actions were the root cause of his departure.

This kind of experience actually exposes problems but you don't solve problems unless you expose them
Paul Wolfowitz
Outgoing World Bank president
"I'm pleased that finally the board did accept that I acted in good faith and acted ethically," he said.

"I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don't think I could have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish for the people I really care about."

He denied suggestions that lingering personal antipathy against him had contributed to his decision to leave.

"I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank and I'll leave it at that.

"People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend."

'Governance issues'

Mr Wolfowitz defended his record over his two-year tenure at the organisation, and reserved high praise for those he encountered outside Washington.

"Frankly the most inspired people and the ones most easily convinced, happen to be the ones that are out there working in country offices.

"There's something that's a little enervating, to be charitable about it, about being in these wonderful comfortable conditions in Washington."

But he did concede that the World Bank, which was created alongside the International Monetary Fund after the end of World War II, had some "governance issues" that needed addressing.

"This kind of experience actually exposes problems but you don't solve problems unless you expose them," Mr Wolfowitz said.

Turning to Africa, he said reducing poverty in the continent was the most important challenge the bank faced.

Mr Wolfowitz told the BBC Africa had been left behind in what had been spectacular development success in other regions, such as east Asia or India.

He said the World Bank was answerable on Africa and if it did not deliver for Africa in five years from now nothing else mattered.




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