UNESCO - Announcement of United States withdrawal (12 October 2017)

14 October, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • A view shows the headquarters of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris

Arab states believe the job of director-general of the 195-member organisation should go to one of them for the first time, but regional tensions have complicated the task.

Azoulay, 49, came from behind after six rounds of voting to defeat Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, also a former culture minister, after he failed to pick up support from other Gulf states which are part of a Saudi-led coalition blockading Qatar.

Azoulay would become the second French leader of the organization since Rene Maheu served as director-general in 1961-74.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed to reporters Egypt's wishes for best luck in the final round to France after Egypt's candidate Moushira Khattab won only 25 votes in the UNESCO fifth round, while France's Audrey Azoulay received 31 votes.

Egypt submitted an official note to UNESCO's outgoing chief, Irina Bokova, on Friday morning to request the verification of "violations that have been detected throughout the electoral process", foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

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The proceedings have been overshadowed by the US decision, announced Thursday, to withdraw from the agency.

Qatar has lobbied intensely for the post - and has increased its financial contribution to support UNESCO in recent years - but its candidate has been dogged by old allegations of anti-Semitism.

The future of UNESCO is of particular importance to France, the country in which it has its headquarters.

The final vote comes the day after the USA and Israel said they plan to pull out of the Paris-based organization over perceived anti-Israel bias.

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