By Lesley Wroughton
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo Rato, in a surprise announcement, said on Thursday he would step down in October for personal reasons, cutting his tenure short by two years.
Rato, who took over at the fund on June 7, 2004, said he would depart after the IMF's fall meetings in October.
"I have taken this decision for personal reasons," Rato said in a statement, shortly after informing the IMF board.
"My family circumstances and responsibilities, particularly with regard to the education of my children, are the reason for relinquishing earlier than expected my responsibilities at the fund," he added.
Rato, a former Spanish finance minister under then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, is estranged from his wife and has three children who live in Madrid. He often stops over in Spain on his IMF travels to see them.
Rato's regular visits home have prompted speculation that he was still interested in political office after being passed over to succeed Aznar as the leader of Spain's conservative Popular Party, which was unexpectedly defeated at the polls in March 2004.
"Everyone would welcome him with open arms," Popular Party Communications Secretary Gabriel Elorriaga said.
But Spanish news agency Europa Press, quoting sources close to Rato, said he would not return to Spanish politics and planned to join a private company in Spain.
Still, his resignation notice comes as Spain prepares for a March 2008 general election, which is likely to be a closely contested poll.
Rato's departure from the IMF comes in the middle of the biggest shake-up in the institution in a generation, amid debate over whether the IMF's relevance and an outdated membership voting structure that ignores the rise of economic powers in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere.
Rato's legacy as IMF chief will be the reforms he launched in September 2004 that seek to modernize the 62-year-old institution and give developing nations a greater say in the way it is run after years of dominance by Europe and the United States.
Without the reforms, many fear the IMF would not be able to wield the influence it needs to police the global economy at a time when fewer countries are seeking its emergency loans and governments often ignore its policy advice.
In his statement on Thursday, Rato said he was determined to make progress on the reforms in the coming months, including reaching consensus among members on a second round of changes to increase the IMF voting power of developing countries.
"I hope that my departure can provide an incentive for all of us to work together constructively and effectively with the membership over the next few months to try and accelerate the time table in these areas and ensure that we make significant progress by the time of the annual meetings," Rato said.
WORDS AND PHRASES
accelerate: v. tăng tốc
amid: prep. giữa
annual: adj. hàng năm/ thường niên
circumstances: n. tình cảnh/ tình huống
consensus: n. sự nhất trí/ đồng thuận
closely contested poll: cuộc bầu cử cạnh tranh gay gắt (giữa các ứng cử viên)
dominance: n. sự chế ngự/ thống trị
emergency loans: n. các khoản vay khẩn cấp
estrange: v. làm cho xa cách
ignore: v. phớt lờ/ xem thường
incentive: n. sự khích lệ/ khuyến khích
institution: n. tổ chức (ở đây chỉ IMF)
institutional: adj. thể chế
legacy: n. hậu công việc/ cái để lại
make progress: v. có tiến bộ/ tiến bộ
outdated: adj. lỗi thời
particularly: adv. đặc biệt
poll: n. cuộc bỏ phiếu/ lá phiếu
prompt: v. thúc đẩy
quote: v. trích dẫn
relevance: n. sự phù hợp
relinquish: v. rút lui/ từ bỏ
resignation notice: thông báo từ chức
say: n. tiếng nói
shake-up: n. cải tổ (lại cơ cấu tổ chức)
surprise announcement: n. tuyên bố/ thông báo bất ngờ (làm mọi người ngạc nhiên)
sources: các nguồn tin
speculation: n. tính toán/ phỏng đoán
statement: tuyên bố
tenure: n. nhiệm kỳ
take over: pv. tiếp quản
wield: v. có được/ giành được