Moroccan-French Audrey Azoulay Elected Head of UNESCO

Moroccan-French Audrey Azoulay Elected Head of UNESCO

France's Audrey Azoulay, the newly-elected director general of UNESCO, speaks to the media at the organization's headquarters in Paris, France.

The politically charged campaign to succeed UNESCO's outgoing chief Irina Bokova was overshadowed by Washington's announcement Thursday that it planned to withdraw from the body after years of tensions over decisions seen as critical of Israel.

But the end of Hollande's political career risked ending her political ambitions, as well, as new the new president, Emmanuel Macron, found himself in an uncomfortable position with a candidate he did not choose, to a post he did not seek.

Ms Azoulay, who will become UNESCO's second woman leader after Ms Bokova, had edged out Egyptian rights activist Moushira Khattab earlier on Friday as the main challenger to Mr Al Kawari, the frontrunner until the final run-off.

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, called Unesco's July designation of Hebron's Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian territory the latest of many "foolish actions" that had made the agency "a chronic embarrassment".

The ministry said it has not been dragged by "conflicts caused by some officials of a competitor state, which only sought to undermine the Qatari candidate", in an implicit reference to Egypt.

Audrey Azoulay was preferred to the candidate of Qatar - Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kawari.

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Founded in the wake of WWII, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is best known for its list of World Heritage sites-including Stonehenge, the Grand Canyon, and the Cambodia's Angkor Wat.

With the backdrop of the Qatari-Saudi Arabia rift, strong anti-Qatar sentiments within the Arab world worked against the Qatari candidate.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's foreign minister, said in a statement congratulating Ms. Azoulay that Unesco was facing "historic challenges" and that France would work toward "a strong and responsible multilateralism".

The UNESCO vote was marred by tension between Egypt and Qatar with Cairo accusing Doha of using its financial power to influence the UN agency's 58-member executive council.

"In this time of crisis we need more than ever to support, strengthen and reform Unesco and not leave it", Azoulay told reporters, saying she would modernise the organisation. He has also pushed for more multlilateralism at a time when the United States has pushed back.

Her father is Andre Azoulay, a banker and adviser to the Morocco's King Mohammed VI, also served his father, the late King Hassan II.

Praising Trump's decision as "brave and moral", Netanyahu said he has ordered Israeli diplomats to prepare for Israel's withdrawal from the organisation in concert with the Americans.

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