In a genuinely open, merit-based contest, the 25-member executive board’s deliberations should have been preceded by debates between the candidates. I suspect that Okonjo-Iweala, with her enormous competence and renowned wit, would have got the better of Kim. The world would also have seen why so many of us were rooting for her.
The selection of a successor to Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank was supposed to initiate a new era of open meritocratic competition, breaking the traditional hold that the United States has had on the job. Indeed, Zoellick’s own appointment was widely regarded as ‘illegitimate’ from that perspective. But US President Barack Obama has let the world down even more distressingly with his nomination of Jim Yong Kim for the post.