Christine Lagarde to bid for second term as IMF chief


Paris (AFP)

Christine Lagarde announced Friday that she will run for a second term at the head of the International Monetary Fund, after winning strong backing from across Europe.

"Yes, I am running for a second mandate," the former French finance minister confirmed in an interview with France 2 television.

With her term coming to an end in July, the IMF formally began accepting nominations on Thursday for who will guide the global crisis lender for the next five years.

After leading the IMF through one of its most difficult challenges -- the rescue of the eurozone from meltdown -- Lagarde drew strong endorsements from Germany, France, Britain, and the Netherlands.

The United States praised her performance in the role without giving its formal backing.

Her plans to run again nonetheless face a potential hurdle: she could stand trial in France over her role in a banking scandal that predates her arrival at the IMF.

In December, investigating judges placed her under formal investigation in the long-running affair of Bernard Tapie, who received a substantial state payout for his dispute with a state bank during her time as finance minister.

Lagarde has said she will fight the trial order, and the IMF executive board at the time reiterated its confidence in her.

No other names have so far been touted as potential candidates, but the Fund will be taking nominations through February 10 with a view to its executive board making a decision by March 3.

Lagarde, 60, easily won a contest with several developing country candidates to take over the IMF in 2011 as Europe was sinking deep into economic crisis.

But her win came amid criticisms that the IMF's top job should not be locked down by a European, as it has since the institution was created in 1944.