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20.07.2005 Business & Finance

ADB meets to elect President in Tunis


Accra, July 20, GNA - Finance Ministers and Governors of Central Banks of the African Development Bank Group are gathering in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, to elect a new President for the African Development Bank Group.

The election for the top post comes on this Thursday and Friday. This second election was necessitated by a stalemate of an earlier process in Abuja at the Annual Meetings in May after five gruelling rounds that saw the elimination of candidates from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Gabon. Egypt withdrew its candidate at the last minute. Nigeria's Olabisi Ogunjobi and Rwanda's Martin Kaberuka were the only two left in the race when it was postponed since they could both not garner enough votes for the top post.

A candidate must obtain a majority of 50.1 per cent of the votes of the regional member countries and 50 per cent of the total votes of the member countries.

Briefing the Ghana News Agency in a pre-departure interview on Tuesday, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the governors should be able to elect a candidate more easily this time.

"We currently have only two candidates and I believe that the candidates have done their homework very well by now and should have a clear path to become the head of Africa's premier financial institution."

Mr Baah-Wiredu could not tell exactly who could emerge winner but expressed the hope that the better candidate would win. He called for a radical change to the ADB regulations on the voting procedure saying, "unless these changes are effected, we would continue to spend huge sums of money to meet to elect a candidate and still have the kind of situation we experienced in Abuja last May". Mr Baah-Wiredu supported the idea of advertising the position after which candidates are short-listed and the best chosen by a competent panel, a practice used in many development finance institutions. Mr Baah-Wiredu said Ghana stood to benefit from 540 million dollars from the African Development Bank Group in the debt relief announced by the G-8 in June 2005.

Dr Martin Kaberuka, 54, previously held Budget and Planning portfolios, is the longest serving Cabinet member clocking eight years to date and widely credited to be one of the key members of President Kagame's reconstruction team.

He has had private engagement in banking, industry, finance and international commodity diplomacy. Rwanda is sponsored by Kenya and Seychelles.

Dr Olabisi Ogunjobi is the current first Vice-President of the Bank Group. He has 27 years experience at the Bank and serves as the head of Operations for West and Central Africa. He is sponsored by Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal.

After the fifth round of voting in the Abuja, neither Dr Ogunjobi nor Dr Kaberuka could garner the necessary majority from the Regional and Non-Regional votes to clinch victory.

Dr Ogunjobi polled the majority of votes from the Regional members where he got 59.40 per cent, while Dr Kaberuka got 40.53 percent. But the story was the opposite among Non-Regional members made up of non-African countries. Dr Kaberuka got 58.22 per cent of those expatriate votes while Dr Ogunjobi received 41.79 per cent. According to country-by-country votes in the May poll, Rwanda went marginally ahead of Nigeria with one vote. While 39 nations voted for Rwanda, Nigeria got the votes of 38 countries.

The ADB voting pattern is done through the elimination of the candidate with the least vote at every round of voting. At the end of the first round, Cameroon fell out having placed sixth with total Regional votes of 1.76 per cent. Only two countries voted for Cameroon.

Ghana and Zimbabwe fell out in the second and third rounds, respectively, while Gabon fell at the end of the fourth round. Ghana had nine countries voting for her, representing 13.44 per cent and total non-regional votes of 12.08 per cent to place fifth. Nigeria is ADB's largest shareholder with a total of 197,553 shares, representing; 8.99 per cent of the Bank's stake. Rwanda has 3,581 shares or 0.163 per cent. Africa's voting power stands at 60.070 per cent. Mr Mamou Mehiry of Sudan was the first to head the Bank Group from November 1967 to August 1970 followed by Abdelwahad Labidi of Tunisia from August 1970 to May 1976.

Mr Kwame Donkor Fordjour of Ghana headed the Bank from May 1976 to July 1979 while Wila D. Mungomba of Zambia came on from June 1980 to May 1985. Babacar Ndiaye of Senegal succeeded Mugomba from May 1985 to August 1995 when Omar Kabbaj of Morocco took over. 20 July 05