The Mexican government has nominated Bank of Mexico chief Agustin Carstens to be managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Finance Secretary Ernesto Cordero sent the nomination letter for Carstens to the IMF on Monday.

Carstens is vying to replace France's Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last week amid a sexual assault scandal.

"I'm pleased to nominate Mr. Agustin Carstens for the position," Cordero said in his role as Mexico's representative to the IMF.

Carstens called on emerging countries to join together and "support a single candidate" for the post.

"It's a difficult process because many national interests are involved and there are undoubtedly other people capable of doing the job, but the challenge for emerging market countries is to achieve unity around a single man who can take the battle to the Europeans," Carstens said.

President Felipe Calderon decided to "enter my candidacy to start the process, so that at least if there is some European who wants to win, he will have to do battle with me. Obviously there will be other candidates," Carstens told RadioFormula.

"What is important is that we take the process forward to give legitimacy to the institution and that the role and increased status of emerging countries as a whole is acknowledged," Carstens said.

The economist, who served as Mexico's finance secretary from December 2006 to December 2009, said he was "very happy" running the central bank, but he acknowledged that he would love to run the IMF, an organization in which he served as the No. 3 official.

"It is a very important challenge. I would say that it's the highest position that a public official like me, an economist with a background in finance, could aspire to, regardless of what country he comes from," Carstens said.

The competition to succeed Strauss-Kahn was formally opened on Monday, and will now have at least one Latin American in the race, though other hopefuls in the region could still be nominated.

The IMF's managing director has traditionally been a European under a gentlemen's agreement between Europe and the United States, while the head of the World Bank has been an American.

Many countries believe it necessary to end that custom, give a more important role to emerging economies, and judge candidates on their merits.

European countries appear to support a united candidacy, with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde emerging as the leading candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn.