French Finance Minister and IMF candidate Christine Lagarde said on Saturday tackling sovereign debt troubles would be a priority of the International Monetary Fund if she led the Washington-based rescue lender. Lagarde, competing with Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens, was in Saudi Arabia as part of a world tour where she needs to drum up support among emerging market economies for her IMF candidacy.
South Africa’s Trevor Manuel ruled himself out of the race for the IMF’s top job on Friday, making Lagarde an even firmer favourite, although she remains under threat of a judicial inquiry in her home country. Lagarde is backed by the European Union and a handful of smaller countries from Georgia to Mauritius. Paris is hopeful that Washington and Beijing will also stand behind her.
Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy is leaning towards supporting Lagarde but has not yet made up its mind, officials said on Friday. Lagarde said that the IMF should also support countries affected by the pro-democracy protest movement sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.