Lagarde tapped as first IMF woman chief, Carstens bows out

13:34, June 29, 2011      

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File photo taken on March 15, 2010 shows French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry Christine Lagarde arrives at the EU headquarters prior to the Euro Group finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on June 28 that it has selected French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to serve as its next Managing Director. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

by Jiang Xufeng, Liu Lina

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was appointed managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to hold the top IMF post since its inception in 1944.

The IMF executive board selected Lagarde to serve as managing director and madame chairman of the executive board of the IMF for a five-year term starting on July 5, the Washington-based IMF said in a statement.

The 24-member board said Lagarde and Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens are both "well qualified" candidates and it decided on Lagarde by consensus. Lagarde won critical backing from key IMF members including the United States.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday voiced support for Lagarde over Carstens hours before the IMF's final decision, saying Lagarde's exceptional talent and broad experience would provide invaluable leadership for the institution at a critical time for the global economy.

"I am deeply honored by the trust placed in me by the executive board. I would like to thank the Fund's global membership warmly for the broad-based support I have received. I would also like to express my respect and esteem for my colleague and friend Agustin Carstens," Lagarde said in a statement following the appointment.

The 55-year-old former lawyer said that the IMF must be "relevant, responsive, effective and legitimate," in an effort to achieve stronger and sustainable growth and macroeconomic stability.

"The IMF has served its 187 member countries well during the global economic and financial crisis, transforming itself in many positive ways. I will make it my overriding goal that our institution continues to serve its entire membership with the same focus and the same spirit," added Lagarde, the 11th European to head the agency, amid an escalating European debt crisis.

"I welcome the selection of Christine Lagarde as managing director for the IMF, and extend her my best wishes and full support. I am sure that Lagarde will be a very capable leader of the institution," Carstens, the former IMF deputy managing director, said in a statement following Lagarde's appointment.

Carstens said he hoped the IMF could make "meaningful progress" in improving its governance to assure the legitimacy, cohesiveness and effectiveness, under Lagarde's direction.

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