The Latest: French candidate picked as next UNESCO chief
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the election of a new director for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO (all times local):
UNESCO’s executive board has chosen France’s Audrey Azoulay as the Paris-based U.N. agency’s new chief, rejecting a candidate from Qatar who was seen as the front-runner a day earlier.
Azoulay narrowly beat Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in the final 30-28 vote after she won a run off against a third finalist from Egypt earlier Friday.
Arab states had been lobbying hard to get an Arab candidate elected as UNESCO’s director-general.
UNESCO’s general assembly will have to sign off on the board’s pick next month, but it’s seen as a formality.
Azoulay would become the second French leader of the organization since Rene Maheu served as director-general in 1961-74.
Egypt’s foreign ministry says it is demanding an inquiry into alleged “violations” during the elections for the top position at the U.N.’s cultural agency.
The ministry said the request made Friday was submitted by Egypt’s permanent mission to UNESCO.
Egyptian candidate Moushira Khattab was among three finalists for the position, but was eliminated in a runoff with France’s Audrey Azoulay on Friday.
Azoulay now faces Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in a final vote scheduled for Friday evening.
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.
Arab countries have long wanted to lead UNESCO.
The election of UNESCO’s new chief has been narrowed down to two candidates, one from Qatar and the other from France.
The winner to be selected on Friday will succeed outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova, whose 8-year term leading the U.N. cultural agency was marred by financial woes and criticism over Palestine’s inclusion as a member.
The final vote comes the day after the U.S. and Israel said they plan to pull out of the Paris-based organization over perceived anti-Israel bias.
Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and France’s Audrey Azoulay are vying to get the needed 30 votes from UNESCO’s executive board.
Arab countries have long wanted to lead the organization, but the Palestine issue has complicated the election.
UNESCO’s general assembly will have to sign off on the board’s pick.