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Europe moved swiftly on Friday to maintain its grasp on the leadership of the International Monetary Fund after Thursday's surprise resignation of Rodrigo de Rato as managing director.
The European Union sought to reassert the convention by which its governments nominate a European citizen to run the fund, while the White House picks an American to run the World Bank, its sister institution.
But the unexpected decision by De Rato, a Spaniard, to quit just over three years into a five-year term threatened to trigger a renewed row over this US-European carve-up of the two powerful posts, which reflects the economic pecking order of the old century and now shuts out rising powers like China and India.
South Africa led the charge to demand that the "gentleman's agreement" that allows Europe to monopolise the top post of the fund be brought to an end, and the managing director's job be opened up to candidates from around the world.
A spokesman for Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said: "We believe that the process must be open and transparent, and that the selection of a candidate to replace Mr de Rato must be based on merit, and not on the continent the person comes from, or the country."
But Europe showed little sign of any readiness to capitulate to such demands. - The Times, London