'Hot air forced me out'

LONDON - The outgoing president of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz denied in a radio interview broadcast yesterday that his actions were the reason for his departure, and blamed an overheated atmosphere at the bank and in the media for forcing him to resign.

LONDON - The outgoing president of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz denied in a radio interview broadcast yesterday that his actions were the reason for his departure, and blamed an overheated atmosphere at the bank and in the media for forcing him to resign.

Wolfowitz, who has announced he will step down tomorrow, told the BBC he was pleased the bank's board had accepted that he acted ethically and in good faith in his handling of a generous compensation package for his girlfriend and bank employee Shaha Riza in 2005.

"I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don't think I could have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish for the people I really care about," he said.

Wolfowitz's role at the bank had been controversial from the start.

By tradition, the US, the bank's biggest contributor, names an American to run the institution.

US President George Bush's selection of Wolfowitz in 2005 stunned many.

They were upset that Bush would tap his number two official at the Pentagon and a key architect of the Iraq war to run the bank.

In the BBC interview, Wolfowitz denied any suggestion that his decision to leave had been influenced by an apparent lack of support from the bank's employees. - Sapa-AP

X