UNESCO's French chief set for second term: sources

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UNESCO's French chief set for second term: sources
French former culture minister and newly elected head of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay addresses a press conference following her election on October 13, 2017 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Thomas Samson / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- The head of the UN's cultural agency UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay of France, appears assured of being given a second term after no other candidate emerged to challenge her, sources said Wednesday.

No rival for the post of director general was registered by Monday's deadline ahead of a vote by UNESCO in November, and some three-quarters of countries on the executive council are backing her, a source close to Azoulay, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

The re-election process in November would observe the usual formalities and steps, the source said, adding that "all the conditions have been united for her to be re-elected".

Azoulay, French culture minister under Socialist president Francois Hollande, was elected in November 2017 to head UNESCO.

The organisation, which monitors cultural heritage around the world, has been through a troubled period after the United States and Israel pulled out of the body, accusing it of a pro-Palestinian bias.

It has also in recent years had to meet challenges to salvage cultural heritage worldwide in the face of conflict, such as the destruction by Islamic State extremists of historic sites in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, UNESCO helped Lebanon after a huge port explosion ravaged Beirut and also expressed alarm after Turkey turned the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul -- which was built as a Byzantine church -- from a museum into a mosque.

© Agence France-Presse

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