By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Newly oil-producing Guyana has co-nominated White House adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone as its own candidate for the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the latest twist in an increasingly heated debate over who should lead the bank.
Claver-Carone, the son of Cuban immigrants, has been nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump to lead Latin America's main development bank. He told Reuters that Guyana's move reflected growing support for his candidacy, and other countries could follow suit.
However, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, as well as European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have all urged a delay in the Sept. 12 vote, expressing concerns about having someone from outside the region lead the bank for the first time in six decades.
The opposition also reflects concerns that Trump could lose the Nov. 3 U.S. election, and his candidate could find it difficult to work with a Democratic administration.
Claver-Carone, due to visit Colombia and Panama next week as part of a delegation led by U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, said 17 countries backed him publicly and four more had expressed support in private.
In an interview at the White House, Claver-Carone said moves by an "obstructionist" minority of bank shareholders to delay the election could endanger the future of the bank, and jeopardize its ability to raise funds in the future.
"Essentially you're leaving the bank in vacuum. It's extraordinarily irresponsible," he said, adding it would also "surely lead to a downgrade in its credit rating."
To win, a candidate needs the backing of at least 15 of the 28 regional member countries and a majority of the total vote, calculated by each country's shares in the bank. Opponents could thwart a vote by skipping the meeting, since a quorum of at least 75% must be present for the election to proceed.
Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Costa Rica combined represent just over 22% of the vote, and could still draw support from some European countries that have small shares of votes.
Guyana's decision to nominate him reflected the breadth of his support, Claver-Carone said, adding, "Other countries have expressed their desire to co-nominate and will be doing so as well." He did not name those countries.
He cited a tradition of officials continuing to serve at institutions like the World Bank, even if the president who nominated them left office, and said he would work to mend fences.
"One of the things that people know about me is that they can knock on my door with agreements or disagreements," he said. "I'm very honest. I'm very straightforward. I'm not shy."
And the debate over his candidacy could stimulate more interest in the bank and its work, he said.
"We've talked more about the IDB in the last six weeks than I think had been discussed in the last 60 years," he said. "Let's channel that energy positively. And I think at the end of the day, who is going to come out winning is the IDB."
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)