Washington – Bono won’t be saving the world at the helm of the World Bank.
The lobby group co-founded by the Irish band U2’s lead singer on Thursday knocked down media reports that he was a serious contender to head the global institution that provides billions of dollars annually to help the world’s poorest countries.
“I can’t believe I need to say this, but there are no circumstances in which Bono would be nominated or accept the World Bank job,” said Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA – or Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa – for which Bono campaigns to raise awareness of Africa’s problems.
“Bono is flattered to be mentioned for such an important job but DATA does its best work from the outside.”
Who will next lead the World Bank has been up in the air since former Wall Street investment banker James Wolfensohn announced in December he would leave the post when his term expires at the end of May.
Washington has always chosen the World Bank chief, traditionally an American, under an informal trans-Atlantic deal with Europe, which picks the head of the International Monetary Fund. Developing nations want this process changed so choices are made based on qualifications, not nationality.
The 70-year-old Wolfensohn, an Australian who became American to take the job, was appointed by President Bill Clinton and the President Bush ‘s Treasury Department has said it now wants its own World Bank chief.
Global development experts and commentators have expressed surprise at the delay by the Bush administration in naming a successor to Wolfensohn.
Bono’s name first surfaced for the job in a Los Angeles Times editorial that last month endorsed the rock star as a credible candidate, based on his effective lobbying on behalf of African development.
The idea gathered global momentum – and a new twist – last weekend when U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who is part of the team working to find Wolfensohn’s successor, told a U.S. television network he admired the singer.
“He’s in a way a rock star of the development world too. He understands the give-and-take of development. He’s a very pragmatic, effective and idealistic person,” Snow told ABC’s This Week in an interview on Sunday.
But Snow added that the job would go to an American.
“I fully expect that to be the case, yes, and so do the G7 finance ministers and all of the participants in the process,” he said.
DATA’s Drummond said he hoped that whoever wins the job “puts the interest of the poorest people in places like Africa first, and wins the trust of people around the world.”