Egypt: Khattab Gets 12 Votes in 2nd Round of Unesco Election

Egypt: Khattab Gets 12 Votes in 2nd Round of Unesco Election

The new director-general will replace Irina Bokova in this post and be confirmed at the UNESCO General Conference in November.

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.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman tweeted out a congratulatory note to Azoulay and wished her success in the final election against Kawari that will be held tonight.

The two candidates were followed by Egyptian diplomat Moushira Khattab, who got 13 votes. She is also a former minister of family and population.

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.

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

Egypt is part of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia that has been blockading strategically placed Qatar since June over its alleged support for radical Islamists and its ties to Iran. More than ever, UNESCO needs an initiative that resonates with all member states, one that will restore confidence, overcome political divisions and be dedicated exclusively to UNESCO's key missions.

The agency's outgoing head, Bulgaria's Irina Bokova, told French radio that UNESCO's "universal mission was in jeopardy".

Qatar has generously funded UNESCO in recent years and lobbied intensively for the post, which would have helped bolster its worldwide status at a time when it faces isolation in the Gulf.

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