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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Frenchman favourite to head IMF
Former French minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Mr Strauss-Kahn was finance minister under PM Lionel Jospin
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, is favourite to be named as the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Nominations for the role close at 0400BST on Saturday, with the Frenchman tipped to succeed Rodrigo de Rato.

The only other nomination is Josef Tosovsky, a former Czech prime minister and central bank chief, who was put up as a late candidate by Russia.

No other candidates are expected to be put forward.

Russia said it had nominated Mr Tosovsky partly to challenge a tradition that Europe chooses the managing director of the IMF, while the US picks the boss of the World Bank.

"Not everyone agrees with this. It's unfair to leading countries in the world," said Russian Foreign Minister Alexei Kudrin.

'Too rigid'

When it announced the hunt for Mr Rato's successor, the IMF said that the winning candidate could come from "any" of its 185 member nations.

Earlier this week, African Union head Alpha Omar Konare said that the selection process was "not reflecting the balance of powers in the world today".

European Union finance ministers last month decided that in future, nominations for the IMF chief would be opened up to candidates from outside Europe.

Some countries, including Britain, felt that the current round of nominations should be opened to non-Europeans, but that did not happen because the US had already been allowed to choose Robert Zoellick as the new World Bank chief.

He resigned as French finance minister in 1999 following corruption allegations, of which he was later cleared
He is a front-runner to oppose Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential election
As finance minister, he oversaw the part-privatisations of France Telecom and Air France

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

Some poorer countries complain that the IMF, like the World Bank, is dominated by a handful of rich countries and that its economic solutions are too rigid.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was finance minister under socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin from 1997 to 1999 and played a key role in the introduction of the euro.

He was also one of the defeated candidates for the Socialists' nomination in this year's presidential elections, and had been tipped to challenge Segolene Royal again after her defeat by Mr Sarkozy.

There has been some concern that if Mr Strauss-Kahn is confirmed as Mr Rato's replacement, the heads of the European Central Bank, the World Trade Organisation, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the IMF would all be French.

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