Former French Cultural Minister Audrey Azoulay Wins After Heated Election Overshadowed By Middle East Tensions

France’s Audrey Azoulay, the newly-elected Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), speaks to the media at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Audrey Azoulay has been elected to become the next head of UNESCO, the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation.

Azoulay was born in Paris to a Moroccan Jewish family from Essaouira and is the daughter of Anfre Azoulay, an adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Azoulay, a former French culture minister, narrowly beat Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in the final 30-28 vote after she won a runoff with a third finalist from Egypt.

The outcome was a blow for Arab states that have long wanted to lead the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. UNESCO has had Europian, Asian, African and American chiefs, but never one from an Arab country.

In brief, remarks after she won the election, Azoulay said the response to UNESCO’s problems should be to reform the agency not to walk away from it.

The siege countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt) mobilized their efforts in open and scandalous conspiracies against the candidate of Qatar in a precedent not known to the Arab homeland in such a gross and ugly form.

Azoulay started the week with much less support than al-Kawari but built up backing as other candidates dropped out. She went on to win a runoff with a third finalist, Moushira Khattab of Egypt.

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