Saturday, May 5, 2007

Shaha Riza turns ugly

Shaha Riza turns ugly

The fourth week of the drama unfolding at the World Bank over president Paul Wolfowitz's promotion of partner Shaha Riza has raised more question marks over Wolfowitz's judgment during his time at the Bank, further calls for his resignation, and widespread recognition of the need to end the fix which sees the president chosen by the US administration.

After hiring attorney Robert Bennett, Wolfowitz appeared before the ad hoc committee of the board which was created to investigate the allegations against him. In an about face from his stance the previous week where he committed to accept the recommendations of the board in the matter, Wolfowitz accused the board of launching a "smear campaign" against him.

His latest tactic has been to attempt to shift the blame for the way Riza's secondment to the US state department was handled to both the ethics committee and the human resources department. This has been discredited by statements from the former head of the ethics committee, Ad Melkert, the head of human resources, Xavier Coll, and former general legal counsel, Roberto Da–ino.

When this tactic failed, Wolfowitz's lawyer first threatened to leak details of Bank staff salaries, then, in a Newsweek interview, suggested that it was Riza herself who pressed Wolfowitz to impose the generous terms of her new posting: "she said she worked up the numbers, not Mr. Wolfowitz. She was outraged that she had to leave."

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