Former Spanish Finance Minister Rodrigo Rato is almost certain to take over as the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund after the United States backed his candidature for the top job.
The European Union had on Thursday officially nominated Rato as its candidate and Washington gave its key seal of approval, praising the Spaniard's 'excellent credentials.'
The French and Germans had wanted Jean Lemierre President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, while the British media tried to give the impression that Gordon Brown was in the lead.
American backing for Rato is believed to reflect the fact that Spain participated in the US-led Iraq war while Germany and France opposed it strenuously.
Four candidates have been nominated so far for the vacant post. As many as three names -- Andrew Crockett, Mohamed El-Erian and Stanley Fischer -- have been proposed by executive director A Shakour Shalaan, representing Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Syria, the Untied Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Rato's name was proposed by IMF alternative executive director O'Loghlin, representing Canada, Ireland, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitt's and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
O'Loghlin claimed to speak for 'the member States of the European Union.'
The Group of Twenty Four, representing or supposed to represent all developing countries, had campaigned for breaking the understanding between the Europeans and Americans at the end of World War-II under which the World Bank would always be headed by an American and the IMF by a European.
However, as the nominations indicate, the developing countries could not put up a united front.
The IMF wants the matter decided before it gets out of hand, so Thomas Dawson, director of the external relations department of the IMF, issued a statement saying, "Executive directors of the IMF have agreed to hold an informal meeting on April 27, 2004 to discuss the next steps in the board's consideration of the candidates for the post of managing director of the International Monetary Fund."