BRICS: Scrap 'obsolete' IMF deal on European chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – IMF directors for five key emerging market economies on Tuesday said it was time to scrap an "obsolete unwritten convention" that requires the head of the International Monetary Fund to be a European.\r\n

In a joint statement, IMF directors for China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia, or BRIC countries, criticized European officials for implying that the successor to former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn should continue to be a European.

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They urged “abandoning the obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the IMF be necessarily from Europe” and argued that it undermined the legitimacy of the global institution.

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France said earlier on Tuesday that China backed French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the job but China’s foreign ministry had no comment. Lagarde has called a news conference for 0945 GMT on Wednesday.

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The BRIC nations said the recent financial crisis, which erupted in developed countries, underscored the need to urgently reform international financial institutions to reflect the growing clout of developing countries in the world economy.

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“We believe that, if the Fund is to have credibility and legitimacy, its managing director should be selected after broad consultation with the membership,” the IMF directors said, adding that the new IMF boss should be chosen on the basis of competence, not nationality.

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Meanwhile, under the BRICS influence, South African President Jacob Zuma will visit Tripoli next week for talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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The South African presidency said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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Johannesburg-based Talk Radio 702 earlier reported that the aim of the visit was to discuss an exit strategy for Gaddafi but the presidency statement made no mention of that.

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“President Zuma will stop over in Tripoli for a discussion with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, on the 30th of May, in his capacity as a member of the African Union High Level Panel for the Resolution of the conflict in Libya,” the statement said.

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The South African president headed an African Union mission to Tripoli in April but the AU bid to halt the civil war collapsed within hours.

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A South African government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the aim of the latest effort from the African Union was “to seek a breakthrough”.

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France and the United States have made upbeat assessments on progress towards ending Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.

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Talk Radio 702, citing sources in Tripoli, said Zuma’s visit was in cooperation with Turkey but in Ankara the Turkish Foreign Ministry said there had been no contact on the visit.

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Last week, South Africa accused Libya of misleading it over the fate of a South African photographer now believed to be dead after being shot and abandoned in the desert by forces loyal to Gaddafi.

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said it was incensed by the use of deadly force against civilians and journalists and accused Libya of dishonesty.