UN culture body split over Egyptian

Controversial candidate tipped to win despite complaints about "anti-Israel" remarks.

    Hosni's bid for the United Nations culture agency's senior post has stirred a political storm [File: AFP]

    But fighting off the attacks ahead of the first round of voting, Hosni insisted his comment was part of an angry exchange with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and was taken out of context.

    He told France 24 television he had been referring only to "Israeli books that insult Islam," which he had been accused of tolerating.

    Hosni's detractors include Auschwitz death camp survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who says his appointment would "shame" the global community.

    But he is also behind efforts to rebuild an crumbling old synangogue in Cairo, Egypt's capital.

    'Man of peace'

    At Unesco headquarters in Paris, supporters hailed Hosni as "a man of peace" who would improve ties with Muslim countries.

    Supporters say the Egyptian's election would send a positive signal to Muslim world [AFP]
    Envoys to Unesco started voting on Thursday for a successor to Japan's Koichiro Matsuura as director-general, with Farouq Hosni, Egypt's culture minister for 22 years, seen as the frontrunner.

    Hosni nevertheless held a comfortable lead over his three nearest rivals in the second round 23 votes, according to a diplomat.

    Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations, had nine votes, while Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian ex-foreign minister, won eight, as did Ecuador's Ivonne Baki.

    All nine candidates are allowed to run in the second, third and fourth rounds but if it goes to a fifth round there must only be two.

    The incumbent director general, Japan's Koichiro Matsuura, is to end his term at the end of November.

    The UN agency is mandated to promote global understanding through culture, education and science.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.