The battle for the top job at the IMF has intensified as a group of leading emerging economies attacked Europe's "obsolete" grip on the position ahead of an expected declaration from French finance minister Christine Lagarde that she wants to be head of the organisation on Wednesday.
The Bric nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - along with South Africa said in a rare joint statement that the choice of managing director on the basis of nationality undermines the legitimacy of the International Monetary Fund, and stressed it should be based on competence.
"The recent financial crisis which erupted in developed countries, underscored the urgency of reforming international financial institutions so as to reflect the growing role of developing countries in the world economy," they said. They called for the end of the "obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the IMF be necessarily from Europe," which dates back to the founding of the agency at the end of the second world war. The top job at the IMF usually goes to a European while an American leads its sister organisation, the World Bank.
However, the Bric countries did not suggest an alternative candidate to Lagarde, who is set to formally announce her candidacy on Wednesday. She has garnered support in Europe - including from the UK government - and the United States. Hours before the Bric statement was issued in Washington, France's government said China would back Lagarde to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. China's foreign ministry declined to comment.
Lagarde has played a key role in protecting France's financial system since the crisis struck, but she faces a possible legal probe of her role in a payout to Bernard Tapie, a prominent French businessman, to settle a dispute with a state-owned bank in 2008.
Mexico has nominated its central bank chief, Agustin Carstens, for the IMF role. Former South African finance minister Trevor Manual has been mooted as a possible candidate, although he is currently involved in a racism row which would undermine his diplomatic credentials, and Russia has said it would back Kazakhstan's central bank chief, Grigory Marchenko.