The final round of elections held on Friday by the Executive Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) for the post of Director-General of the world body ended with the victory of the French candidate Audrey Azoulay over Qatar's candidate HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari.
Held at the headquarters of the organisation in Paris, the election to pick the 11th director of the UN body was keenly fought by the candidates.
The French candidate, in the last round, received 30 votes, compared with 28 votes for Dr al-Kuwari. Azoulay is to succeed Bulgarian Irina Bokova, whose term expires in November after two consecutive terms.
Dr al-Kuwari conducted the elections in a dignified manner, where the difference in the final round between him and the French candidate was only two votes. Since the start of the first round, Dr al-Kuwari had received wide support from the board members as well as Unesco member states. He has been leading the race during all the initial rounds and was securely placed to win the election but lost to the French candidate to such a slender margin. The third candidate to reach the final round was Moushira Khattab of Egypt.
During the five rounds of the elections, Dr al-Kuwari was able to win the confidence of many countries which underscored Qatar's international standing and the suitability of its candidate.
In the first round, Dr al-Kuwari obtained 19 votes, six more than his nearest rival, the French candidate. He continued his leading position in the second round with 20 votes to increase the difference to seven votes from the French candidate.
Dr al-Kuwari got 22 votes in the fourth round ahead of French and Egyptian candidates, who received 18 votes each.
His programme, launched two years ago, included a new vision to restore the cultural renaissance of the organisation under the slogan "Towards a New Beginning for Unesco."
Local newspapers Al-Sharq and Arrayah said Qatar's candidate leading in the vote until the last round was a victory for the State of Qatar and a great loss for the siege countries which spared no effort to topple the Qatari candidate.
There were seven candidates in the fray, namely HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, Audrey Azoulay (France), Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Vera El-Khoury Lacoeuilhe (Lebanon), Qian Tang (China) and Pham Sanh Chau (Vietnam), after the withdrawal of the candidates of Guatemala and Iraq before the first rounds of voting.
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