(Adds details, quote from board)
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - The World Bank on Monday unanimously approved Robert Zoellick as its president after a controversial two-year term by Paul Wolfowitz, who agreed to resign over a promotion scandal involving his companion.
Zoellick, former deputy U.S. secretary of state and trade representative, was the only nominee for the job and will overlap for a week with Wolfowitz before he offically takes the reins of the poverty-fighting institution on July 1.
"Mr. Zoellick brings to the bank presidency strong leadership and managerial qualities as well as a proven track record in international affairs and the drive required to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the bank," the World Bank board said in a statement.
Zoellick has said his first priority will be healing the divisions among shareholders and staff and restoring the credibility of the bank damaged by the battle that eventually forced the resignation of Wolfowitz.
Zoellick has said he will focus on the poorest countries in Africa, but also wants to define a clearer role for the World Bank in emerging nations like China, India and Brazil, which are still dogged by high poverty levels despite their rapid economic development.
His five-year tenure begins in the middle of the bank’s critical year-long fund-raising for its lending programs to its poorest borrowers, which will set the course of the bank for the next three years starting mid-2008.