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Wolfowitz future still in balance

The future of beleaguered World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz remains in the balance despite a defiant statement that he intends to stay.

His fate lies in the hands of the executive board, which is under pressure to take a decision. Wolfowitz is still facing calls to resign after admitting helping his partner win a promotion and pay rise. Bank member governments say the matter is of great concern and the bank staff association said again he should go. Wolfowitz on Sunday vowed to stay on to continue what he called „important work”. „I believe in the mission of this organization and I believe that I can carry it out,” he said.

The Dutch development minister added his voice to those raising questions about the impact of Wolfowitz's actions, saying he saw the situation as a „substantial crisis for the institution”. „I don't want to hide the fact that I have doubts about his functioning,” Bert Koenders told Reuters. He said that the bank lacked a clear sense of direction and hoped the board would come to a decision as a matter of urgency. „There is also a lack of trust in the moment in the leadership and in the management, so that is something that has to be resolved,” he said.

Germany's development minister hinted that the bank may face future difficulty in gaining funding from member states. „An institution like the World Bank lives by its moral authority and its credibility,” Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said. A communiqué issued by 24 development and finance ministers meeting in Washington said it was important the bank should maintain its credibility and reputation as well as the motivation of its staff. The bank's staff association reiterated calls for their boss to go. „We don't see how he can regain the credibility that has been lost,” said Alison Cave, chair of the association. „I don't think he fully understands how much this has damaged the organization.”

 
The row concerns events that occurred shortly after Wolfowitz assumed his position at the World Bank. His girlfriend, Libyan-born Shaha Riza, was seconded from the World Bank to the US state department to avoid creating a conflict of interest. There she received promotions and pay rises which the bank's staff association say were „grossly out of line” with bank rules. The bank's executive board has said that it did not give its approval for Riza's wage rise. On Thursday, Wolfowitz issued a statement apologizing for the controversy. „I made a mistake, for which I am sorry,” he said. In recent days, although the US has continued to support Wolfowitz, other nations have questioned his position. A former deputy secretary of defense under George W Bush, Wolfowitz was seen as a controversial nominee to the role from the beginning due to his part in driving forward the war in Iraq. (BBC NEWS)