The International Monetary Fund on Monday shortlisted French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens for the IMF's top job, disqualifying Bank of Israel's Stanley Fischer because of his age.
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In a surprise move, the IMF board failed to support changing the IMF's rules that would have allowed 67-year-old Fischer to run, two board official told Reuters. IMF rules carry an age limit of 65 for a first-time managing director.
An official statement by the IMF board confirmed it would consider two candidates and made no mention of Fischer.
"The Executive Board will meet with the candidates in Washington D.C. and, thereafter, meet to discuss the strengths of the candidates and make a selection," it said in a statement.
Front-runner Lagarde is backed by the European Union and a handful of smaller countries. Carstens has the support of a dozen Latin American countries in one of the most hotly contests races in IMF history.
Carstens acknowledged on Monday in Washington that he was a long-shot candidate and he knew chances were "quite high" that Lagarde would get the job left vacant by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested in May on sexual assault charges.
The U.S. Treasury said on Monday it had not yet endorsed a candidate, although it is widely expected Washington will back Lagarde to head the global financial institution.