The World Bank's Staff Association asked the board of directors yesterday to pick an administrator to run day-to-day operations until bank president Paul Wolfowitz's resignation takes effect June 30.
"We have significant concerns about the interim arrangement," staff association president Alison Cave said in an interview. "We feel like we're in a state of limbo."
Cave, whose group represents the agency's 13,000 employees, also said its presidency should be opened to a non-American. By tradition, the head of the development organization is picked by the United States.
Wolfowitz, who quit Thursday, offered to delegate day-to-day decisions to his deputies until his departure.
In a letter to board members yesterday, he said that most of his responsibilities can be handled by the agency's two managing directors, Graeme Wheeler and Juan Jose Daboub, and that he would not be involved in personnel decisions. He said he wrote the letter after consulting with the board's senior members, Eckhard Deutscher and Otaviano Canuto.
"Should policy matters arise, I would defer to the appropriate" managing director or vice president, the letter said. "If the board so desires, I am happy to assist on the few pending strategic issues," such as the bank's budget.
Meanwhile, the White House said yesterday that it would move quickly to find a successor - preferably an American - as the administration tries to rebuild relationships strained by the controversy.
Wolfowitz resigned under intense pressure after his leadership was undermined by a furor over the compensation he arranged in 2005 for Shaha Riza, a bank employee and his girlfriend.
Asked if the president had received any recommendations yet for the post, White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded: "Not that I'm aware of. I see lots of speculation in newspaper articles, and I'm not going to comment on names."
The European Commission called yesterday for a quick appointment, saying the poverty-fighting institution needs "stable and strong political leadership."
Wolfowitz's departure ends his two-year run at the development bank, which was marked by controversy from the start, given his previous role as a major architect of the Iraq war when he served as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon.