Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

France's Audrey Azoulay wins vote to be next UNESCO chief

France's Audrey Azoulay wins vote to be next UNESCO chief

The six candidates who made it to the vote were Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Audrey Azoulay (France), Polad Bülbüloglu (Azerbaijan), Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria (Guatemala), Pham Sanh Chau (Vietnam), Qian Tang (China), and former Qatari Minister of Culture Hamad Abdul Aziz al-Kawari, who is now the cultural affairs adviser to the Emir of Qatar.

Qatar's candidate in the race to lead the UN's cultural arm has advanced to the final stage of the election on Thursday, garnering 22 votes in the fourth round, in the battle to replace outgoing UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova.

To win the post of the UNESCO director general, a candidate should get an absolute majority of 30 votes of the 58-member board in any of the four rounds of the vote that kicked off on Monday and will run until October 12.

China had nominated Qian, who has been serving as assistant director general of UNESCO since April 2010, to be the agency's head, but chose to withdraw after the latest round of voting yesterday, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The victor must be approved by UNESCO's 195 member states in November, though this is seen as a formality.

The two went on to say that UNESCO's Executive Board "appears to be squandering the chance to put those ideals and values ahead of base political considerations", and urged members to vote for an alternative candidate.

The voting process itself has been highly politicized.

Egypt's foreign ministry has demanded an inquiry into alleged "violations" during the UNESCO voting.

The UNESCO vote comes as Egypt and three other Arab nations continue a months-long boycott of Qatar over allegations that the government funds extremists and has overly warm ties to Iran. Bokova expressed "profound regret" at the USA decision and defended UNESCO's reputation.

Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called UNESCO's July designation of Hebron's Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian territory the latest of many "foolish actions" that had made the agency "a chronic embarrassment".

Like this: