The contest to lead the IMF has been thrown open after surprise candidate Stanley Fisher came forward to challenge Christine Lagarde and Agustin Carstens.
An unexpected trilateral contest is now underway after the Bank of Israel's governor Fisher threw his hat into the ring, joining French finance minister Lagarde and Mexican central bank governor Carstens.
The French candidate is the front runner after Egypt, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates formally lent her their support in response to Fisher's candidacy.
"I am very confident, particularly after several meetings here in Egypt," Lagarde said after talks with Egyptian finance minister Samir Radwan.
However, surprise candidate Fisher, who has a long track record as economist at the IMF and the World Bank, may pose a serious challenge to Lagarde, who was widely expected to earn her way to the IMF on the back of large support from the European countries and Russia.
Meanwhile, Carstens said he is backed by 12 Latin American countries after he proposed himself as an alternative choice to the 65-year-long European reign at the top of the IMF.
However, Carstens has failed to gain endorsement from Argentina and Brazil while developing countries stepped back from coalescing around one candidate.
The US, the IMF's largest shareholder with almost 17% of the votes, has not yet made its decision, although US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner has said both Lagarde and Carstens are qualified.
The IMF managing board is set to decide the successor of Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the end of June, after the former boss was charged with the sexual assault of a maid in a hotel in New York.
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