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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 June, 2005, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Wolfowitz hails Africa turnaround
World Bank's Paul Wolfowitz and South African president Thabo Mbeki
Mr Wolfowitz praised president Mbeki's tough stance on fraud
New World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has praised the new generation of African leaders for their commitment to tackling corruption.

At the end of his visit to the region he praised South African President Thabo Mbeki for sacking his deputy over allegations of corruption.

The move was hailed as a firm step in rooting out corruption.

"There's a new leadership in Africa that's taking responsibility," Mr Wolfowitz said at a press conference.

I hope I can push the Bank staff to look at the mistakes of the past so that we don't repeat them
Paul Wolfowitz

Last week, President Mbeki sacked his deputy Jacob Zuma after his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was convicted of corruption and fraud.

But following his visit, Mr Wolfowitz also admitted that the West had played a part in many of the regions problems.

"I hope I can push the Bank staff to look at the mistakes of the past so that we don't repeat them," he told the BBC.

His tour of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Africa came just days after G8 leaders agreed to cancel the multi-lateral debts of 18 of the world's poorest countries. The cancelled debt was worth a total of $40bn.

The World Bank chief said he hoped that next month's G8 summit in Scotland would deliver added impetus to the region's development.

"I hope it's going to give impetus to debt reduction for Nigeria," he said.

"There are a number of other ideas on the table, including, by the way, in the area of peacekeeping and security, which is a major problem for this continent."

New battles

He also warned such change would not be a simple matter of aid.

"It's also a matter of reducing farm subsidies and opening markets; it's a matter of fighting corruption ... every corrupt transaction has two people involved - there's a corruptee, if you want to call it that, and a corruptor, and some of those corruptors are in developed countries."

Ahead of his visit, there had been some concern about the controversial appointment of America's former hard-line deputy defence secretary as head of the World Bank.

However, he has battled hard to cultivate a different image as a champion of African development in the past week.

Despite some demonstrations against his role in the war in Iraq, the local response to his visit was warmer than expected.

"I am very pleased indeed that we are actually of one mind about the need to focus on these development challenges, look at the practical things that need to be done and look for positive results," South Africa's president Mbeki told reporters.

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