Clinton rules herself out as successor to Zoellick at World Bank
WORLD Bank President Robert Zoellick has said he will step down in June and Washington pledged to name a replacement candidate within weeks for a job that has always gone to an American.
The Obama administration said it would open the process to competition, marking the first time it has shown willingness to loosen its grip on the world's top development lender.
Mr Zoellick took the reins at the Bank in 2007 after a staff revolt pushed out Paul Wolfowitz, and he moved quickly to return the institution's focus to alleviating poverty.
Developing countries have for years pressed for a greater voice in leading global financial institutions and are likely to stress the importance of a competitive process, but the United States is still widely expected to retain its hold on the job.
"It is very important that we continue to have strong, effective leadership of this important institution, and in the coming weeks, we plan to put forward a candidate with experience and requisite qualities to take this institution forward," US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.
While Mr Geithner called for an "open and expeditious process," analysts say Washington can ill-afford to give up the post without risking the US Congress cutting funding for the bank.
Speculation has been rife over who might take the job. Possible US candidates include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers.
The State Department said Ms Clinton would not be taking the job. "She has said this is not happening," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Emerging market and developing countries have campaigned hard in recent years to break Europe's grip on the top position at the IMF and the United States' hold on the presidency of the World Bank.
Officials from large emerging economies like Brazil said on Wednesday the selection process for Mr Zoellick's successor should be based on qualifications and not nationality.
Last year, emerging market economies made an aggressive push to fill the IMF top job in a bitter contest won by France's Christine Lagarde. (Reuters)