Dr. Jim Yong Kim, an American who is president of Dartmouth College, has been chosen to be next president of the World Bank. His selection extends the U.S. hold on the top job at the 187-nation development agency.
Kim, a surprise nominee of President Obama, was selected Monday in a vote by the World Bank's 25-member executive board. He will succeed Robert Zoellick, who's stepping down after a five-year term.
Developing nations waged an unsuccessful challenge to Kim, 52, a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Kim's selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal or economic figures. The World Bank raises money from its member nations and borrows from investors to provide low-cost loans to developing countries.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner praised the selection, saying Kim "has a lifetime of experience solving complex problems." He said Kim "will help breathe new life into the World Bank's efforts" to promote economic growth around the world.
Developing countries had put forward two candidates for the post: Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo. Both argued that it was time to break the hold the United States has had on the World Bank job and provide a greater voice for developing nations. Friday, Ocampo announced that he was withdrawing and throwing his support to Okonjo-Iweala.
The World Bank didn't reveal the board's vote. But it said "the final nominees received support from different member countries," -- indicating that the choice was not unanimous.
Oxfam, the global anti-poverty group, complained that the process was tainted by the fact that a U.S. candidate was again selected in a closed process. For nearly seven decades, the World Bank has always been led by an American, while the International Monetary Fund has always been led by a European.
"Dr. Kim is an excellent choice for World Bank president and a true development hero," said Elizabeth Stuart, a spokeswoman for Oxfam. "But we'll never know if he was the best candidate for the job because there was no true and fair competition. This sham process has damaged the institution and sullied Dr. Kim's appointment."
Kim issued a statement accepting the job from Lima, Peru, his last stop on a global tour that has taken him to Africa, Asia and Latin America to seek support.
Kim will begin a five-year term in July. Born in South Korea, Kim is an American who moved to the United States with his family at age 5. His selection extends the tradition of Americans leading the World Bank dating to the institution's founding in 1944.