World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will step down on February 1, three years before his term expires.
Kim announced the development on Monday January 7, and is set to join an unnamed firm focusing on investments in developing countries according to a statement from the bank.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim president.
“It has been a great honour to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim said in a statement.
However, he is expected to return to the board of Partners-in-Health, which he co-founded.
Mr Kim was re-elected for a second five-year term in 2017, and was due to leave in 2022.
No reason was given for his unexpected resignation.
Kim’s leadership saw the World Bank end its support of coal power projects, something that did not augur well with the US President Donald Trump.
It is suspected that Kim could have succumbed to pressure from US, which he avoided a public clash with as much as possible during his tenure.
Early last year, the US forced Kim to suspend loan payments to China and other high-income countries.
Mr Kim, who was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1959 and trained as a medical doctor.
He was nominated by former president Barack Obama for both his first and second term at the head of the World Bank.
The World Bank said it would “immediately start the process” of appointing a replacement.
Traditionally, the president of the World Bank has been nominated by the US, while the head of its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund has been picked by European countries.
Do you have a story you want told? Do you know of a sensitive story you would like us to get our hands on? Email your news TIPS to [email protected] Also WhatsApp 0708677607 with your news tips