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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Russia eyes Czech for top IMF job
Josef Tosovsky
Mr Tosovsky used to head the Czech central bank
Russia is backing former Czech central bank head Josef Tosovsky to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Finance Ministry said.

The move comes after former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn was nominated by the European Union, increasing competition for the post.

The new successor will take up the role in October when Rodrigo Rato leaves.

The IMF is traditionally led by a European, while the World Bank head is selected by the US.

Mr Tosovsky has a distinguished record as a central European central banker.

He successfully managed the separation of the Czech Republic from Slovakia in 1993, and went on to play a key role in the economic reform plans for the transition to a free-market economy.

Mr Tosovsky was briefly the caretaker Prime Minister of the Czech Republic for six months in 1997-1998, following the resignation of Vaclav Klaus.

Tough battle

However, he will face a tough battle against Mr Strauss-Kahn, who is thought to have the support of the US as well as the EU, which would give him more than the 50% of the votes needed for election.

It is believed that after the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank boss in June, the Europeans agreed to support an American - Robert Zoellick - as his replacement in return for US support for their nomination as IMF head.

In addition, many former European colonies in Africa are likely to support the EU candidate, as they are heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Russia has been taking an increasingly assertive stance in its foreign policy, boosted by a new-found affluence that has been generated by booming oil and commodity revenues.

It has been seeking membership of other international economic groups, including the World Trade Organization, where it is still facing difficult negotiations with the EU and the US.

Governance issues

The IMF gives financial assistance and advice to many of the world's poorest countries and is charged with maintaining global financial stability.

Some poorer countries argue that a handful of wealthy nations dominate the IMF, as well as the World Bank.

Proposals have been made to change the voting structure of the two organisations - which is based on the GDP of its member-states - to give more power to emerging market countries like Brazil, India, and China.

But some European governments have been resisting a reduction in their share of the vote.

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