The World Bank on Friday launched the nomination process to select a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick when he steps down in June, inviting names from any of its 187 member countries.
The board said in a statement that nominations had to be submitted by March 23 and it hoped to select its top choice by the time of the World Bank and IMF meetings in April.
It said it would short-list three candidates and publish their names if they agree. Zoellick said on Wednesday he will leave his post at the end of June when his five-year term ends.
The World Bank provides loans and grants to emerging and developing countries to fight poverty through projects that also help to develop their economies.
Developing countries have long pressed for a greater voice in leading global financial institutions and are likely to stress the importance of a competitive process, but the US is still expected to retain its hold on the job.
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday the US would name its candidate within weeks in an open process.
So far, the two people most often mentioned as possible successors are both American: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former White House economic adviser and former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers. The Department of State has said that Clinton would not be taking the job.
Emerging markets, which pushed hard for the top job at the IMF last year after the sudden resignation of former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, were irked by Europe’s immediate claim on the job.
However, there is little evidence that emerging markets could field a candidate and build a coalition large enough to challenge the US.