French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's standing for the top IMF official gained impetus in Europe on Sunday with Mexico forwarding its own candidate for the post, giving competition for the top job.

Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero Arroyo said the country would nominate Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens, placing a prominent emerging market name into the race, reported Reuters.

A merit-based process to replace the former IMF chief has been promised by The International Monetary Fund. The former leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France is under house arrest in New York on charges of attempted rape on a hotel maid.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is widely considered the front-runner for the post. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, a top advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said on Sunday, that Lagarde would make an excellent head of the Washington-based lender.

Lagarde undoubtedly has sincere supporters with Germany. Britain has also signaled that they would line up behind Lagarde, who has experience managing the euro-zone debt crisis the IMF is now focused on.

A senior EU official said there was virtual consensus on Lagarde in the 27-nation European Union after telephone consultations among the leaders. Her candidacy is expected to win U.S. backing, which would tip the votes in her favour at the IMF board, Reuters stated.

Strauss-Kahn's scandal has raised arguments between Europe and emerging countries that may be its time for Europe to end its 65 year domination on the IMF top post.

In Mexico, the Finance Ministry said that Carstens, who was the deputy IMF managing director before joining Mexican administration in 2006, has the abilities and qualifications needed to lead an institution of such relevance as the International Monetary Fund.

Australian and South African finance ministers said that the tradition of IMF top post going to Europe every time is out-of- date and that the selection of the IMF chief should be made based on the G-20 nations pledge made two years ago for an open selection of the leader.