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Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

14 October 2017, 12:38 | Darnell Patrick

Egypt out of race for UNESCO chief, endorses French candidate

Leading candidates for Unesco’s new chief include Qian Tang of China former Egyptian government minister Moushira Khattab and Qatar’s former culture minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari

Former Qatari culture minister Hamad bin Abdoulaziz Al-Kawari is now leading the contest, with French ex-culture minister Audrey Azoulay and Egyptian rights activist Moushira Khattab locked in joint second.

Speaking to journalists before Friday's vote, Azoulay said if elected she would "restore the effectiveness and credibility" of UNESCO, which she said was undergoing a "deep political crisis". Then, 195 members in the General Conference will be appointed in view of recommendations from UNESCO's Executive Board.

Azoulay would become the second French leader of the organization since Rene Maheu served as director-general in 1961-74. More than ever, UNESCO needs an initiative that resonates with all member states, that will restore confidence, overcome political divisions and be dedicated exclusively to UNESCO's key missions.

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 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.

The candidates who amassed the highest number of votes in the fourth round will compete in the fifth.

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Under these circumstances, our candidacy for the post of Director-General of UNESCO takes on a new significance.

Arab countries have long wanted to lead UNESCO.

Al-Kuwari topped the voting and qualified for the final round.

Over the past few days, Egyptian media has accused energy-rich Qatar of buying votes for its contender, Al-Kawari.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off on the board's pick.



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