WASHINGTON - UNBOWED by her party's rout in elections this week, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Friday that she would seek to lead Democrats when the new US Congress is sworn in come January.

Mrs Pelosi, the first woman to serve as the number-three US elected official, powered key planks of President Barack Obama's agenda through the House of Representatives over the past two years, sometimes by razor-thin margins.

'Our work is far from finished,' she said in a letter to colleagues announcing her plans to run for House Minority Leader, citing the need to protect Mr Obama's sweeping health care overhaul and Wall Street reforms.

'We have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back. It is my hope that we can work in a bipartisan way to create jobs and strengthen the middle class,' said Mrs Pelosi, 70. In the run up to the Nov 2 elections, amid forecasts of a Democratic rout, some centrist Democrats urged Mrs Pelosi not to stand for minority leader, and she could still face an upstart challenge.

But the California Democrat, perhaps the most effective Speaker in a generation, is a tireless political fundraiser for her party and proved adept at enforcing party discipline since becoming the first woman to hold the post when Democrats captured the House in 2006.

House Democrats could be in for a fight for the number two spot, with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer potentially facing off with chief vote-counter James Clyburn for the position of Minority Whip. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner is all but certain to become the new Speaker, a job that will make him second in line for the presidency, behind Vice-president Joe Biden.

Pelosi seeks to lead Dems