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World Politics

Christine Lagarde set to become new IMF boss

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is poised to become the next leader of the scandal-rocked International Monetary Fund, with a major endorsement from the Obama administration.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced his support for her candidacy hours before the 24-member board was expected to select her as its managing director.

Ms Lagarde would be the first woman to head the lending organisation. She would replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month after being charged with sexually assaulting a New York City hotel worker.

Ms Lagarde was opposed by Agustin Carstens, a Mexican central banker whose candidacy never caught fire, even among developing countries.

Mr Geithner said her "exceptional talent and broad experience" will provide invaluable leadership for the bank at a critical time for the global economy. He said he is encouraged by the broad support she has among the fund's membership.

In Europe, where she has spear-headed the battle against a vicious and stubborn debt crisis. She has also won support from China and Russia, according to reports in Beijing and the ITAR-Tass news agency in Moscow.

The United States, Europe, China and Russia hold a combined majority of votes on the IMF's board.

The executive board represents the 187 members of the IMF, which lends to financially troubled countries.

Her selection will likely provoke protests from developing countries. Under an informal arrangement, a European has always lead the IMF and an American has run its sister organisation, the World Bank. The United States also names the IMF's top deputy. Developing nations have pushed to open the positions to candidates outside the United States and Europe.