Race for Unesco's top post tightens

Race for Unesco's top post tightens

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.

Race for the post of Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has tightened following the announcement of the results of the third round of elections held yesterday evening.

The Qatari and French candidates, Hamad bin Abd elaziz alKawari and Audrey Azoulay garnered 18 votes each, Khattab garnered 13 votes, China's candidate Qian Tang 5 votes, and Lebanon's Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilhe 4 votes.

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

The secret ballot vote was held in Paris on Friday afternoon by UNESCO's 58-member execute board. Candidates from Guatemala, Iraq and Azerbaijan have also given up.

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Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and France's Audrey Azoulay are neck-and-neck in the race to head the UN's cultural body. In 2014, country had contributed $10 million to Unesco World Heritage Fund.

Arab countries have long wanted to lead the organization, but the Palestine issue has complicated the election.

However, UNESCO does not observe the kind of rotation by world region which is used when choosing a UN secretary general.

The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

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

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