Bowing to pressure from the Bush administration, the World Bank board agreed Wednesday to give Paul D. Wolfowitz, the bank’s president, slightly more time to defend himself against charges of misconduct before the board decides his future.
In a development that might help Wolfowitz’s fight to remain as bank president, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has lobbied European foreign ministers in the last two weeks, expressing support for him.
“She has spoken with several European foreign ministers about her positive impressions of Paul and the job he’s doing at the World Bank,” Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said Wednesday when asked whether Rice had become involved in supporting Wolfowitz.
Despite Rice’s efforts and the board’s decision to give Wolfowitz more time, bank officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential, said they saw no indication that the board was any less determined to oust him from the presidency.
Wolfowitz was given until Friday evening — two additional days — to make his case to the board, and it was expected that he would appear before the board as early as Monday. The board is to vote on whether he deserves a reprimand, a vote of no confidence or outright removal.
But even those plans could change. Discussions continued Wednesday on whether to proceed with a vote next week. Many bank officials continue to hope that Wolfowitz will resign, making a vote unnecessary.
Last weekend, a special committee of the board concluded that Wolfowitz violated bank rules and the terms of his contract by directing that Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, be awarded a large pay raise and promotion package when she was transferred to the State Department in 2005.