China withdraws candidate for UNESCO chief

China withdraws candidate for UNESCO chief

Arab countries have complained that UNESCO has never had a boss from their region.

Beijing, Oct 13 China has withdrawn its candidate for the position of UNESCO chief in favour of Egypt's nominee, a day after the USA and Israel quit the UN's cultural body accusing it of being biased against the Jewish state.

The withdrawal of Qian in favour of Egypt should give Khattab 18 votes, which would put her on a par with two other leading candidates - Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari and France's Audrey Azoulay, it said.

The next vote between the French and Egyptian candidates will see who competes with al-Kuwari in the final round to be held later on Friday.

The secret ballot vote was held in Paris on Friday afternoon by UNESCO's 58-member execute board.

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

More news: NOW to protest at Manhattan DA's office over Harvey Weinstein controversy

The victor must be approved by UNESCO's 195 member states in November, though this is seen as a formality. Arab intellectuals urged French President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw his support for her.

In March, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre wrote an open letter to German Ambassador Michael Worbs, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board, to criticize the organization for accepting al-Kawari's candidacy.

Egypt's foreign ministry says it is demanding an inquiry into alleged "violations" during the elections for the top position at the U.N.'s cultural agency. In addition, the vote came as Egypt and three other Arab nations continued a months-long boycott of Qatar over allegations that the government funds extremists and has overly warm ties to Iran.

While the Trump administration had been preparing for a likely withdrawal from UNESCO for months, the timing of the State Department's statement Thursday was unexpected.

UNESCO has been accused of bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it infuriated Israel and staunch ally the United States by granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

Related Articles