Former French finance minister, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is expected to be named on Friday as the next head of the International Monetary Fund, continuing a six-decade tradition in which a European leads the world body.

The 24-member board of shareholder governments will decide between Strauss-Kahn and former Czech prime minister and central banker, Josef Tosovsky.

A European has led the global financial institution since its post-World War Two inception in 1945. But the IMF's legitimacy has been questioned by emerging economic powers. which want a greater say in the institution's decision making.

Tosovsky was nominated by Russia in a direct challenge to Western Europe's grip on the IMF helm and a selection process that developing countries argue should include multiple candidates to be judged on their qualifications, not nationality.

However, the appointment of Strauss-Kahn to lead the IMF was assured last week when the United States, the fund's largest shareholder, threw its support behind him, a day before he was interviewed by the IMF board.

The IMF board will hold a two-stage vote, including an initial secret straw poll, which will produce the leading candidate, followed by a formal vote.

The current IMF managing director, Rodrigo Rato, is stepping down in October for personal reasons, ending his five-year term prematurely.

Strauss-Kahn, 58, has lobbied hard for the IMF job among the institution's 185 member countries and has pledged to implement reforms that will restore the legitimacy of the institution.

He has pledged to continue reforms aimed at giving emerging economies a bigger stake in the fund's voting power and to strengthen the IMF's monitoring of a changing global economy, where countries like China had a bigger role.

Development group Oxfam said Strauss-Kahn should actively support changes in the way the IMF is managed so that all developing countries get a fair say in its decisions.

"Recently, Mr. Strauss-Kahn has emphasized the importance of such reform and the need for the IMF to adapt to a rapidly changing world," said Oxfam's Washington-based policy advisor Elizabeth Stuart. "This is welcome, but he'll need to set the tone from day one in the position to make it happen," she added.