Dhaka: The United States would give its “fullest consideration” to Nobel Laureate Professor Mohammad Yunus’s candidature for the World Bank presidency if he wanted to be the head of the Bretton Woods institution, the US envoy in Dhaka said on Tuesday.
"If he agrees (to be a candidate for WB presidency), he will be given fullest consideration,” Ambassador Dan Mozena told newsmen on the sidelines of a function in northwestern Rajshahi as asked for comments on a surprise move by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suggesting his nomination for the position last week.
The envoy, however, did not elaborate further.
Historically, the World Bank presidents come from the United States but Yunus’s name was suggested for the position as proposals were floated to amend the provision and keeping the presidency of the multilateral lending agency open for prospective candidates from outside US.
Hasina on February 22 proposed Yunus’s nomination as World Bank chief during a meeting with a EU parliamentary delegation months after his resignation from the Grameen Bank after protracted dispute with her government.
“The prime minister has requested the European Union to use its good office for Dr Yunus for the presidency of the World Bank” as a visiting EU delegation led by EU Parliament member Jean Lambert called on the Prime Minister at her office, a senior aide of the premier told Gulf News at that time.
Another “source” familiar with the meeting said Hasina noted that Yunus also was respected all over the world for his outstanding contribution towards alleviating poverty through microcredit activities and his experience would be a valuable asset for the World Bank.
Yunus, whose experiment of poor men’s banking earned Bangladesh the repute of being the home micro credit and the Nobel Peace Prize to himself in 2006, was not available for comments on the issue for the past one week.
The 7-year-old Nobel Laureate resigned last year after he lost his final legal battle in the apex court to thwart a Bangladesh Bank decision removing him from the position two and half months ago against the backdrop of his widely visible dispute with Hasina.
Hasina’s proposition instantly sparked wide speculation if it was an effort to reverse her stance on Yunus particularly to woo the current US administration or Hillary Clinton who firmly stood by Yunus at the time of his dispute with the government.
“Historically the World Bank presidents come from the United States and the IMF heads are from Europe . . . I also don’t think Dr Yunus is also looking for the position,” international relations analyst Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University told PTI.
He added: “I don’t think this (proposal) is practical or relevant . . . I also don’t think this will be looked positively.”
A large part of the country’s civil society and international community rallied a massive support behind Yunus during his troubles when the United States even warned Dhaka-Washington ties could be at stake unless the government reached an amicable settlement with him.
Bangladesh Bank, which is nominally independent from the government, fired Yunus on March 2 this year as the central bank found that his 2000 appointment as the Grameen Bank’s executive chief was faulty because the central bank’s mandatory approval was not obtained at that time.
Analysts, however, said the central bank decision was the outcome of the government reservation against him as Yunus’s troubles stem from 2007 when he announced formation of a political party.