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Vote for top job goes to fourth round, impasse continues

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-09-20

After failing to get the required 30 votes in Saturday’s third round of voting, Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosni faces a fourth round for the job as UNESCO’s director-general. Hosni’s bid has been clouded by anti-Semitism allegations.

Egypt's controversial candidate for UNESCO director general failed to win an absolute majority in a ballot of world envoys Saturday, with the vote now set to head to a fourth round, FRANCE 24 has learned.

Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s culture minister, has been the frontrunner for the post. But he failed to get the 30 votes necessary to be elected the new chief of the UN’s cultural organisation in Saturday’s vote.

Hosni’s bid for the United Nations culture agency’s top post has stirred a political storm, with Hosni accused of anti-Semitism.

Reporting from UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, FRANCE 24’s Aurore Dupuis said Hosni had secured 25 votes, up from the 23 he received in Friday’s second round of voting.

The 71-year-old Egyptian politician held a comfortable lead over the other two main contenders, former Bulgarian foreign minister Irina Bokova and European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Bokova got 13 votes, while Ferrero-Waldner, an Austrian diplomat, got 11 votes, FRANCE 24 has learned.

Hosni is seeking to become the first representative from the Arab world to head the UN agency mandated to promote global understanding through culture, education and science.

His supporters say his election would be a positive signal to the Muslim world and a symbolic boost for global interreligious harmony.

But a statement he made before the Egyptian parliament in May last year about burning Israeli books in Egyptian libraries has attracted widespread anti-Semitism charges.

Hosni himself has insisted his comment was part of an angry exchange with hardliners from the Muslim Brotherhood and was taken out of context.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 earlier this month, Hosni said he had been referring only to "Israeli books that insult Islam," which he was accused of tolerating in Egypt's libraries.


The fourth round of voting is scheduled to take place on Monday, sources told FRANCE 24.

Date created : 2009-09-19

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