Published on the 10th of October 2017 in The Jerusalem Post
Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari of Qatar and Audrey Azoulay of France are the leading candidates to head UNESCO as a result of Monday’s preliminary vote in Paris.
UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board cast secret ballots for seven candidates to replace the organization’s director-general Irina Bokova, whose eight-year tenure expires at the end of December.
After the first round of voting, Kawari received 19 votes, followed by Azoulay, who is Jewish, with 13.
Egyptian human rights advocate Moushira Khattab garnered 11 votes.
The votes for the other four candidates are as follows: six for Vera el-Khoury Lacoeuilhe of Lebanon, five for Qian Tang of China and two for Polad Bulbuloglu of Azerbaijan and Pham Sanh Chau of Vietnam. Diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post that these last two candidates will likely withdraw from the race.
The news was a mixed bag for Israel, which has been nervous about Kawari’s candidacy, believing him to be antisemitic.
Diplomatic sources told the Post the preliminary vote is not necessarily significant, as backroom deals can be made, even in the coming hours, for candidates to quit the race ahead of Tuesday’s second round of voting.
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