The United States faces a brewing battle over who will lead the World Bank as one of its reported candidates ruled the job out and insurgent candidate Jeffrey Sachs won developing country support.
With the March 23 deadline looming for nominations to succeed president Robert Zoellick, Washington -- which has always put an American at the helm -- had narrowed the field to three, according to a source close to the Bank.
The administration of President Barack Obama is considering US Senator John Kerry, United Nations ambassador Susan Rice and economist Lawrence Summers, the source said.
But Kerry, the Democratic senator who was defeated in a run for the White House by then-president George W. Bush in 2004, says he does not want the job.
"Senator Kerry hasn't been contacted by the administration about the World Bank vacancy," his spokeswoman Jodi Seth said Thursday in an emailed statement.
"While he has great respect for the institution and its role in the world, he's not interested in the position."
Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long been thought to be eyeing the secretary of state position that many think Hillary Clinton will vacate around the end of the year even if Obama is re-elected.
Rice, who is also said to be more interested in the secretary of state job than running the world's giant development lender, has been tightlipped about her plans.
Asked as she walked into a UN Security Council debate Thursday whether she was "World Bank bound," the ambassador replied: "C'mon, I've got a great job," Inner City Press reported.
The Bank wants to have the position decided by its Spring Meetings with the International Monetary Fund on April 20-22.
Zoellick, a high-profile former US diplomat, announced on February 15 he would be stepping down when his five-year term ends on June 30.
Summers, the third person on the apparent White House short list, has his own problems.
Few doubt his qualifications: he was Obama's first director of the National Economic Council and served as Treasury secretary under then-president Bill Clinton from 1999 to 2001. He is now a Harvard University economics professor.
But many see him as a potentially polarizing figure, and his name has already provoked howls.
Because of a controversy when he was World Bank chief economist in the 1990s, "Summers would be perceived as an affront for the Africans," a person close to the World Bank told AFP recently.
Meanwhile, self-nominated development expert Sachs seems to be gaining traction.
The world-renowned US economist, who led the UN committee on the Millennium Development Goals, has picked up a clutch of endorsements from developing countries since announcing his candidacy Friday.
Sachs has listed statements of support from the prime ministers of Jordan, Malaysia, East Timor, Kenya and Namibia on his website, jeffsachs.org.
In an op-ed article Thursday in the British newspaper The Guardian, the Center for Economic and Policy Research welcomed Sachs's entry into the race.
"This is good news for the World Bank and the world, since the bank has considerable influence in developing countries, especially poor ones, and is badly in need of reform," said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Washington think tank.
"Jeffrey Sachs has a proven track record over the past decade," he said.
Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has taken his campaign to the social media trail on Twitter.
"My intent is to fight poverty hunger and disease as I've been doing at UN, Earth Institute, and w/ govs around world," he tweeted.