World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has announced that he is stepping down as the head of the premier anti-poverty institution putting the likely choice of its future leadership in the hands of US President Donald Trump, a sceptic of global development.
Kim, 59, announced that he will immediately join a firm and focus on increasing infrastructure in developing countries, but the bank did not provide further details.
"It has been a great honor to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime", said Kim.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim president upon Kim's Feb 1 departure, the bank said in a statement.
Last April, the Bank also increased its capital by $13 billion with the unexpected support of the Trump administration.
The World Bank offers loans and spearheads developmental projects in countries around the world.
The World Bank's board will still need to reach a consensus on a candidate, and a more moderate United States nominee would have a better chance of winning approval, he added.
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President Donald Trump will now be expected to put forward a preferred American candidate to replace Kim, who was nominated by Barack Obama. The selection process is managed by the bank's board of executive directors, which represents the lender's 189 member countries.
"I have therefore decided that it's time for me to take on new challenges and fully focus my efforts on leveraging private finance for the benefit of people around the work", Kim said in his note to staff.
The abrupt resignation could prompt a clash between the Trump administration and other governments over the future of the global body. Kim was previously president of Dartmouth College and head of the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization.
"I might have even appointed him", Trump said of the Korean-born and Iowa-raised leader at the 2017 G20 summit in Germany, "but I didn't".
Kim cultivated close relations with Trump's daughter Ivanka, who works as a White House adviser.
As the largest share-holder, the USA by tradition appoints the head of the Bank, while Europeans determine the chief of the International Monetary Fund.