Zoellick to step aside at World Bank, but will he be replaced by an American?

World Bank President Robert Zoellick this week announced his plans to leave his post in June. The position, which has traditionally been held by an American, is attracting much attention as China and other nations have issued calls for a candidate “of merit” to fill the vacancy.
“China hopes that the next president of the World Bank will be selected based on  the principle of merit in an open and fair competition,” said Liu Weimin, foreign ministry spokesman, according to the Financial Times.

“Emerging market and developing countries have campaigned hard in recent years to break Europe’s grip on the top position at the International Monetary Fund 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 Zoellick’s successor should be based on qualifications and not nationality. However, they acknowledged that given U.S. congressional pressure the job will probably remain in the hands of an American,” reports Reuters.

Responding to the rumors of a challenge to US leadership of the Bank, Oxfam’s Barbara Stocking noted that the International Monetary Fund is usually filled by a European, just as the World Bank post is held by an American. She said the “best person” should fill the job, but also expressed her belief a non-American would be a “welcome change.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner positively remarked on Zoellick’s tenure, while expressing confidence in the Bank’s “set of procedures for managing an orderly transition to new leadership.”

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