Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

The board has held secret ballot votes every day this week, whittling down the seven candidate to Azoulay and former Qatari culture minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari.

The candidates of China and Lebanon had announced their withdrawal ahead of the fourth round vote, and Thursday's contest was between the candidates of Qatar, France and Egypt.

The victor to be selected on Friday will succeed outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova, whose 8-year term leading the United Nations cultural agency was marred by financial woes and criticism over Palestine's inclusion as a member.

On Thursday, just before the final round of votes, the U.S. said it planned to pull out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization citing among other things its anti-Israel bias. She is also a former minister of family and population. "As a response to these difficulties, France has chosen not to leave but at the contrary to invest more. because we believe in multilateralism".

In March of this year, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre wrote an open letter to German Ambassador Michael Worbs, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board, to criticize the organization for accepting al-Kawari's candidacy.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off next month on the executive board's leadership pick, but it's seen as a formality.


The agency also works to improve education for girls, promote an understanding of the Holocaust's horrors, defend media freedom and coordinate science about climate change.

Egyptian candidate Moushira Khattab was among three finalists for the position, but was eliminated in a runoff with France's Audrey Azoulay on Friday.

The rift continued to fester in recent years, with the organization becoming the scene of repeated diplomatic flare-ups after efforts led by Arab countries to pass resolutions critical of Israel that have denied Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem, Hebron.

Arab states had argued that the job of director-general of the 195-member organization should go to one of them for the first time, but regional tensions complicated the task.

Azoulay would become the second French leader of the organization since Rene Maheu served as director-general in 1961-74. Azoulay's father is Moroccan and was an influential adviser to Moroccan kings, so she does have a connection to the Arab world.

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