World Bank president Robert Zoellick is to step down

World Bank president Robert Zoellick
Image caption Mr Zoellick is standing down after serving his five-year term

World Bank president Robert Zoellick is to step down from his role at the institution when his five-year term comes to an end on 30 June.

Mr Zoellick, 58, was appointed to his role in 2007 by then-US president, George W Bush.

The post has always been held by a US national under a loose deal that also sees a European head the International Monetary Fund.

It is a situation emerging economies have become increasingly unhappy with.

When French national Christine Lagarde was appointed head of the IMF in 2011, there was an outcry from the Bric nations at this arrangement.

The Bric nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - along with South Africa said in a joint statement that the choice of managing director on the basis of nationality undermined the legitimacy of the International Monetary Fund.

It may well be the case that these countries will now make the case that the head of the World Bank should be based on talent, not nationality.

Campaigners, including Oxfam, Eurodad and the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad) have called "for an open and merit-based process to elect the next World Bank leader".

Mr Zoellick said in a statement he had informed the bank's board of member countries of his decision.

"Together we have focused on supporting developing countries to navigate crises and adjust to global economic shifts," said his statement.

"The bank is now strong, healthy and well positioned for new challenges, and so it is a natural time for me to move on and support new leadership."

Ms Lagarde said Mr Zoellick had "served the international community - including the membership of the World Bank Group and IMF - with great distinction".

And Andrew Mitchell, the UK's International Development Secretary, said Mr Zoellick had done a "remarkable job".

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