UK Politics

Brown denies South Africa trip is pitch for IMF job

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Media captionFormer UK PM Gordon Brown: "A candidate for a job like this should be chosen on merit"

Gordon Brown has told the BBC he is not in South Africa to "pitch for a job" at the International Monetary Fund.

Speculation about who will be the next IMF chief is mounting following the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn after he was arrested in New York.

But Mr Brown did not answer questions about whether he would go for the job and told journalists he would "say no more about that".

Mr Strauss-Kahn denies the sexual offences charges against him.

He resigned on Thursday saying he wanted to devote his attention to "proving my innocence".

There have been reports Mr Brown, who was chancellor for 10 years before becoming prime minister in 2007, is mounting a bid for the top job at the IMF.

'Far away'

He is in South Africa to launch a report warning of an "education emergency" in the developing world - and has called on richer countries to donate billions of pounds a year to a new Global Education Fund.

He said the world was in danger of missing the UN Millennium Development Goal that every child should be at school by 2015.

Image caption There has been much speculation Mr Brown wants to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn

"We may be in a position where the Millennium Development Goals objectives which was to be met by 2015 is not going to be met in 2025, or 2055, or 2095," he said.

"That's how far away we still are from meeting the Millennium Goal objective."

He told journalists he was not there to "pitch for a job" at the IMF, but added: "I want to thank Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the work he did as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"From every country in the world people recognise the role that the IMF has played in tackling the response to the global financial crisis of which he was a very singular and important part."

He said the chairman of the IMF committee would be consulting around the world about the body's future, adding: "I want to say no more about that."

'No-one has declared'

Pressed on whether he wanted the job, Mr Brown said: "What matters to me is not who is in the job but what the institution does and I'm going to be talking this afternoon about the changes in education and economic policy that need to be made.

"I'm not going to be talking about candidates for the job at all."

Mr Brown, who remained MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath after Labour lost power in last year's general election, took on an advisory role at the World Economic Forum last month.

His global profile rose during efforts to alleviate the effects of the financial crisis while in Downing Street.

But David Cameron appeared to kill off Mr Brown's chances of succeeding Mr Strauss-Kahn in April, when he said the former PM "might not be the best person" for the job.

Backing from a candidate's national government is seen as prerequisite for selection - the final decision is made by the IMF's executive board.

Asked about the IMF post on Friday, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "What we want to see is the best candidate for the job. No-one has declared themselves a candidate for the job."

Asked if Mr Cameron stood by his comments about Mr Brown, the spokesman said: "Yes he does."

Acting IMF chief John Lipsky said on Friday that French finance minister Christine Lagarde would be an "excellent choice" to replace Mr Strauss-Kahn.

Other names thought to be in the frame for the IMF job include Singapore's finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former South African finance minister Trevor Manuel and Kemal Dervis, Turkey's former minister of economic affairs.

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