Wolfowitz says he’ll resign from World Bank post

first_img People close to the negotiations said Wolfowitz agreed not to make major personnel or policy decisions between now and June 30. Some bank officials said he might go on an administrative leave and cede day-to-day functions to an acting leader, but that may not be decided until today. President George W. Bush earlier in the day praised Wolfowitz at a news conference but signaled that the end was near by saying he regretted “that it’s come to this.” A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said in the evening: “We would have preferred that he stay at the bank, but the president reluctantly accepts his decision.” More important for the bank’s future, Fratto said Bush would soon announce a candidate to succeed Wolfowitz, quashing speculation that the United States would go along with an end to the custom, in effect since the 1940s, of the American president picking the bank president. Many European officials previously indicated they would go along with the United States’ picking a successor if Wolfowitz would resign voluntarily, as he now has. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said Thursday evening that he would “consult my colleagues around the world” before recommending a choice to Bush – an apparent effort to assure European allies that the United States would not repeat what happened in 2005 when Bush surprised them by naming Wolfowitz, then a deputy secretary of defense and an architect of the Iraq war. Bitter taste Leaders of Germany and France objected but decided not to make a fight over the choice and risk reopening wounds from their opposition to the war two years earlier. Some also argued that Wolfowitz, as a conservative seeking to write a new chapter in a career that had been focused on national security, might bring new support to aiding the world’s poor. Soon after Wolfowitz took office, however, he engaged in fights in various quarters at the bank over issues including his reliance on a small group of aides and his campaign against corruption, in which he suspended aid to several countries without consulting board members. Wolfowitz’s resignation, while ending the turmoil that erupted in early April over the disclosure of his role in arranging Riza’s pay and promotion package, will not by itself repair the divisions at the bank over his leadership, bank officials said Thursday evening. By all accounts, the terms of Wolfowitz’s exoneration left a bitter taste with most of the 24 board members, who represent major donor countries, as well as clusters of smaller donor and recipient countries. Most had wanted to adopt the findings of the special board committee that determined he had acted unethically on the matter of Riza. Cited his work In the carefully negotiated statement, the bank board praised Wolfowitz for his two years of service, particularly for his work in arranging debt relief and pressing for more assistance to poor countries, especially in Africa. They also cited his work in combating corruption, Wolfowitz’s signature issue. Wolfowitz said he was grateful for the directors’ decision and, referring to the bank’s mission of helping the world’s poor, added: “Now it is necessary to find a way to move forward. To do that I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new leadership.” Wolfowitz’s negotiated departure averted what threatened to become a bitter rupture between the United States and its economic partners at an institution established after World War II that channels $22 billion in loans and grants a year to poor countries. But he left behind an agency that must heal its divisions and overhaul a flawed, cumbersome structure that had allowed the controversy to spread out of control. “It’s come to this” WASHINGTON – Paul D. Wolfowitz, ending a furor over favoritism that blew up into a global fight over American leadership, announced his resignation as president of the World Bank Thursday evening after the bank’s board accepted his claim that his mistakes at the bank were made in good faith. The decision came four days after a special investigative committee of the bank concluded that he had violated his contract by breaking ethical and governance rules in arranging the generous pay and promotion package for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005. The resignation, effective June 30, brought a dramatic conclusion to two days of negotiations between Wolfowitz and the bank board after weeks of turmoil. “He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that,” said the board’s directors in a statement issued Thursday night. “We also accept that others involved acted ethically and in good faith.” last_img