EU parliament calls for Wolfowitz to resign
25 Apr 2007 19:12:23 GMT
By Jeff Mason
STRASBOURG, France, April 25 (Reuters) - The European Parliament on Wednesday called for the resignation of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, adding to mounting pressure on the head of the lending organisation to step down.
Wolfowitz, a former member of the Bush administration, has already faced calls to give up his post after revelations that he approved a promotion and pay raise for his bank-employee girlfriend before she was assigned to work at the U.S. State Department.
Lawmakers asked EU leaders to press the White House over the subject at a EU-U.S. summit in Washington on Monday.
They voted 333-251 with 31 abstentions to include a paragraph in a resolution on transatlantic relations calling on Germany, holder of the 27-nation bloc's rotating presidency, and the United States to ask Wolfowitz to stand down.
They should "signal to the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, that his withdrawal from the post would be a welcome step towards preventing the bank's anti-corruption policy from being undermined", the paragraph said.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are attending the summit with President George W. Bush.
The full resolution was passed by parliament, the only institution in the EU that is directly elected by its citizens.
"By digging in his heels and refusing to resign as President of the World Bank, Wolfowitz is dragging the whole organisation into disrepute and further undermining the credibility of its anti-corruption policy," said Caroline Lucas, a British member of the Greens.
"If he won't jump himself, he must be pushed."
The call by the EU assembly comes as a special World Bank committee examines whether Wolfowitz abused his position or committed ethical lapses as it looks at the promotion of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza.
Wolfowitz, a former U.S. deputy defence secretary who helped plan the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has apologised for his handling of Riza's promotion and pledged to change his management style.
European countries, including Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and France -- all large aid givers for anti-poverty projects in the developing world -- have expressed concern that Wolfowitz's leadership is untenable and is damaging the credibility of the poverty-fighting institution.