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links for 2007-04-13

The Financial Times Says that the World Bank Should Fire Paul Wolfowitz

Its editorial: / Home UK / UK - Wolfowitz must be told to resign now: The president of the World Bank has one asset: his credibility. The Bank’s capacity to make a difference lies not in its money and ideas but in its ability to be the world’s voice for development. This includes, as Paul Wolfowitz, the current president, has insisted, being the voice for good governance....

It is important to understand what is not at issue here. It is not Mr Wolfowitz’s unpopularity.... It is not failures of management, even though his reliance on a group of outside appointees made him mistrusted by many inside and outside the Bank. It is not disagreements over development doctrine.... It is not a romantic relationship with a subordinate....

What then is the story? When Mr Wolfowitz became president of the World Bank he also became the boss of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. To resolve this situation – inconsistent, rightly, with Bank rules – Ms Riza was seconded to the US State Department....

[T]he terms of the appointment, which appear astonishingly generous, violate a number of Bank protocols. Worse, it now appears Mr Wolowitz personally directed the Bank’s head of human resources to offer his girlfriend these exceptional terms. Worse still, this has come out after misleading claims by a senior official that the ethics committee of the board, in consultation with the general counsel, approved the agreement.

What then do we see here? The answer is: an apparent violation of Bank rules; favouritism that borders on nepotism; and a possible cover-up.... In the interests of the Bank itself, he should resign. If he does not, the board must ask him to go.

They are right. Moreover, this is not a great surprise. If you had asked me six years ago if Paul Wolfowitz was the kind of person who would tell the head of HR to give his girlfriend a $50K raise, I would have said yes.