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UNESCO elects new chief

afrol News, 23 September - The United Nations Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) has chosen its new leader, the former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova.

Ms Bokova beat the favourite, Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, whose candidacy had been clouded by allegations of anti-Semitism.

It took five days and five rounds of voting to choose the new UNESCO head.

In the end it was down to Ms Bokova and Mr Hosni. In the final round it seems a coalition formed to keep Mr Hosni out, according to reports from Geneva.

Mr Hosni, who would have been the first Arab head of UNESCO, was always a controversial candidate.

For many years Egypt's culture minister, has spoken in the past about the "infiltration of Jews into the international media".

Last year he said he would be willing to "burn Israeli books in Egyptian libraries", though he has since apologised for the remark.

Ms Bokova received 31 votes from the 58-member Executive Board, UNESCO announced from its headquarters in Paris, where the voting took place early this evening local time. Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosny was runner-up.

Ms Bokova’s nomination will be submitted on 15 October to UNESCO’s 193-member General Conference for formal approval. The term of the current head, Koïchiro Matsuura, ends in November and as he was serving a second term, he was not eligible.

Born in 1952, Ms Bokova is the current Bulgarian ambassador to France and is also the permanent delegate to UNESCO. She has served in many other senior diplomatic and government positions in her country, including the position as foreign minister in 1996-97.

Seven other candidates who were competing for the position of UNESCO's Director-General, were: Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria), Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria), Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos (Benin), Ivonne Juez de A. Baki (Ecuador), Ina Marciulionyte (Lithuania), Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko (Russia) and Sospeter Mwijarubi Muhongo (Tanzania).

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