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Argentina, Mexico delay IDB board meeting to vote on new leaders

Reuters logo Reuters 30/10/2020 By Andrea Shalal and Dave Graham
FILE PHOTO: The commemorative coin of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank is seen on a screen in Luque © Reuters/Jorge Adorno FILE PHOTO: The commemorative coin of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank is seen on a screen in Luque

By Andrea Shalal and Dave Graham

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico and Argentina have delayed a key meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank until after the Nov. 3 U.S. election, delivering an early setback to plans by the bank's new U.S. chief to install vice presidents from smaller countries.

Wednesday's meeting of the IDB's 14-member board was abruptly postponed at the request of Argentina and Mexico, the IDB press office said, adding that a majority of the board backed the three nominees from Honduras, Ecuador and Paraguay.

No new date has been published on the bank's website. One source close to the process said the two countries could in theory delay the vote for three months under the bank's rules.

Mexico and Argentina want to wait until after the U.S. election before voting on the basis that support for IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone, the first U.S. citizen to head the regional lender, might fade if President Donald Trump loses his re-election bid, said one official familiar with the matter.

Both countries had opposed the candidacy of Claver-Carone, a former top adviser to Trump, who took over the helm of Latin America's main financial institution this month.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is leading Trump in national polls, also criticized Trump's nomination of Claver-Carone, and sources close to the former vice president say he could seek to remove Claver-Carone if elected. The United States is the bank's largest shareholder.

It was unclear if Argentina and Mexico would seek to delay a vote on the nominations until after Jan. 20, when the next president will be sworn in.

One congressional source said the situation reflected the continuing fallout of Claver-Carone's contentious election.

"It illustrates that he has not earned the trust and confidence of key shareholders, which begs the question of whether he can deliver on his promise to obtain a capital increase," said the source.

Claver-Carone this week said he is pushing to boost the bank's yearly lending capacity by two-thirds to $20 billion.

The new IDB chief had nominated Reina Irene Mejia, chief executive of Citi Honduras, for the No. 2 job at the IDB, along with former Paraguayan finance minister Benigno Lopez to serve as vice president of sectors, and Richard Martinez, Ecuador's former finance minister, as vice president of countries, according to sources familiar with the plans.

No comment was immediately available from Claver-Carone. He was quoted by Argentine newspaper La Nacion as saying that only Mexico and Argentina wanted to delay the vote and the bank should focus on its main job of lending.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington and Dave Graham in Mexico City; additional reporting by Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Sonya Hepinstall and Leslie Adler)

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