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Former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay was elected as the new director general of UNESCO on Friday, in a narrow victory over her Qatari rival Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari. Azoulay’s election to the top post at the UN science, education and culture agency was the result of a profound divide among its Arab member states, and served a severe blow to Qatar’s ambitions of influence on the world stage. René Backmann witnessed first-hand the tensions during the six rounds of voting, which at one point almost ended in a fist fight, and in this report of the events he analyses the tough tasks ahead for Azoulay amid the decision by the US and Israel to quit the organisation.
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