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Two Arabs and one Frenchwoman lead the fight for UNESCO's leadership

It is the first time that there are so many finalists coming from Arab countries, that they have never had anyone in front of the institution

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Two Arabs and one Frenchwoman lead the fight for UNESCO's leadership

The announcement of United States ' withdrawal from Unesco comes at a delicate juncture for UN organization. The Paris-based agency is this week in full meetings to elect its new director — or director — general, exhausted two maximum mandates of its current chief, Bulgarian Irina Bokova.

In votes held in closed doors by 58 members of UNESCO Executive Council since Monday, of seven candidates who kept ir candidacy until end — two withdrew before beginning of votes —, y remain in Liza five. Two of m, French former minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay, and diplomat Riyal Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, have been most voted so far, but none has obtained sufficient number of supports to impose mselves.

This Thursday, Riyal achieved 22 votes and French 18, like so far third in Liza, Egyptian diplomat and defender of Rights of women and children Moushira Khattab, who was Minister of family in government of Hosny Mubarak. The Chinese aspirant, Tang Qian, current assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO, and Lebanese diplomat Vera El Khoury, are virtually hopeless.

The limit set to select a nominee is this Friday, after a maximum of five rounds of voting, last of which will be held tomorrow. If no candidate achieves majority, a tie-break between two finalists will be made. It is not disposable that final is among women, as it is believed that riyal would have reached maximum support limit in today's round. Once a name is chosen, this will be submitted to a final vote, considered more than anything protocol, on 10 November, during General Conference of Unesco with presence of its 195 member countries (USA will withdraw from December). Only five days later, new — or new — Director-General will assume its functions.

It is first time that re is a single candidate from Europe or North America, two regions from which seven out of ten people — a single woman, Bokova — have so far led organization founded in November 1945 with aim of "contributing to "The preservation of peace and security by strengning, through education, science and culture, collaboration among nations."

It is also first time that re are so many finalists coming from Arab countries. Something that could be counterproductive, as it may end up dividing votes of this region which has openly complained that it has never succeeded in placing one of its own in front of this institution. In any case, post of Director-General of UNESCO is not subject to same process of regional rotation as that of UN Secretary General.

The French government took advantage of announcement of American withdrawal to defend its candidate Azoulay. "Under se circumstances, our candidacy for post of Director-General of UNESCO takes on a new meaning," said Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement. "More than ever, UNESCO needs an initiative that resonates in all Member States and restores confidence, exceeds political divisions, and dedicates itself exclusively to key Unesco missions." That is France's initiative with its candidate, he said.


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