I am on vacation and may not be posting for a couple of weeks.

The Executive Board has done its work, and the General Conference will consider the recommendation in Octover. I am on vacation, and will not post until I return, I do expect to post on the General Conference.


Bokova Elected

The UNESCO website has confirmed that Irina Bokova has won the Executive Board election to be Director General of UNESCO.

I have three independent unofficial reports from reliable sources that Irina Bokova received 31 votes to 27 votes for Farouk Hosny in the fifth round of voting for the position of UNESCO Director General. Having received the majority of votes from the 58 members of the Executive Board, her name will be forwarded to the General Conference.


Charge: Farouk Hosny Helped Hijackers of Achille Lauro Escape

The New York Times yesterday reported:
Elaph.com, an Arabic-language Web site, published Saturday what it said were private admissions by Mr. Hosny that when he was the Egyptian cultural attaché in Rome, he helped to organize the escape from Italy in 1985 of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. In that episode, a retired American Jewish tourist in a wheelchair was shot and pushed into the sea, horrifying much of the world.

Indications of his involvement in the escape of Abu Abbas appear to be widely available in the Arabic literature:
  • http://dostor.org/ar/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32600&Itemid=58
  • http://www.egyptiantalks.org/invb/?showtopic=52234
  • http://www.almatareed.org/vb/showthread.php?t=409
  • http://www.engineerportsaid.com/2009/01/blog-post_6870.html
  • http://4flying.com/archive/index.php/t-21858.html

Farouk Hosny was the Director of the Egyptian Academy in Rome when he was tapped, two years after the Achille Lauro affair, to become Minister of Culture. According to Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council on Antiquities, while in Rome
Farouk Hosni was not well known by the public, but he was known and respected as a talented artist within the cultural community. Several reporters visited Farouk Hosni in Rome including my friend Mostafa El Nagar and Ahmed Abu Kaf. When they were interviewing Farouk Hosni he confided in them that Atef Sedky wanted him to be Egypt’s minister of culture but he did not want the job. Upon hearing this Abu Kaf said to Mustafa that Farouk Hosni was dreaming and there was no way he could be the minister of culture. Many people wanted to be the minister of culture including famous writers and journalists.

On October 7, 1985, led by Abu Abbas, men representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said. After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed disabled American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw him overboard.[1] The ship headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner.

United States President Ronald Reagan ordered that the plane be intercepted and directed to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, a N.A.T.O. base in Sicily, where four hijackers were arrested by the Italians after a disagreement between American and Italian authorities. The other passengers on the plane (possibly including the hijackers' leader, Abu Abbas) were allowed to continue on to their destination, despite protests by the United States. Egypt demanded an apology from the U.S. for forcing the airplane off course. Italy refused extradition of the prisoners to the United States and they were tried in Italy.

The fate of those convicted of the hijacking was varied:
  • Bassam al-Asker was granted parole in 1991. He died on February 21, 2004.
  • Ahmad Marrouf al-Assadi disappeared in 1991 while on parole.
  • Youssef Majed al-Molqi, convicted of killing Leon Klinghoffer [2], was sentenced to 30 years, left the Rebibbia prison in Rome on February 16, 1996, on a 12-day furlough, and fled to Spain, where he was recaptured and extradited back to Italy. On April 29, 2009, Italian officials released him from prison on good behaviour.[4][5] In June 2009, however, al-Molqui's attorney told the Associated Press that the Italian authorities had placed his client in a holding cell and were about to deport him to Syria.[6]
  • Abu Abbas left the jurisdiction of Italy and was convicted in absentia. In 1996, he made an apology for the hijacking and murder, and spoke out in favor of peace talks between Palestinians and Israel; the apology was rejected by the U.S. government and Klinghoffer's family, who insisted he be brought to justice. Abbas was captured in Iraq in 2003 by the U.S. military during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. He died in U.S. custody March 8, 2004.
  • Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He served 20 and three more on parole and on July 7, 2008, he was expelled from an illegal immigrant detention center in Rome. He plans to appeal this arguing that he has nowhere else to go since Lebanon will not allow his return as he was born in a refugee camp and is thus not a Lebanese citizen.


The Fifth and "Final" Round of Voting

Irina Gueorguieva Bokova (Bulgaria) and Farouk Hosny (Egypt) are the two remaining candidates in the election, after a tied vote in the fourth round on 21 September. The fifth and final round is scheduled to take place at 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday 22 September.

According to the New York Times:
If the vote remains tied on Tuesday, the 193-member General Conference will choose a new director general next month, and Mr. Hosny is expected to win in the larger body, where Egypt is thought to have more influence.
Here are some articles following the tie on the 4th round:


4th Round a Tie, Ferrero-Waldner and Baki Withdrew

I just heard from three independent trusted sources in Paris that no one had received a majority in the fourth round of voting, and that the selection will go to a fifth round tomorrow. According to the rules, the voting tomorrow will be between the top two on today's vote.

Voting for the UNESCO Director General
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
Farouk Hosny 22 23 25 29
Irina Bokova 8 8 13 29
Benita Ferrero-Waldner 7 9 11 0
Ivonne Baki 7 8 9 0
Ina Marciulionyte 3 4 0 0
Alexander Yakovenko 7 3 0 0
Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2 2 0 0
Sospeter Muhongo 1 1 0 0
Mohammed Bedjaoui 0 0 0 0
Blank 1 0 0 0
Total 58 58 58 58


I heard a rumor that Ivonne Baki has withdrawn from the election for the new Director General of UNESCO. That would leave the voting among three candidates, Farouk Hosny, Irina Bokova and Mohammed Bedjaoui. The last of these three has not received a single vote in the first three rounds and would appear to be a very dark horse.



Results of the Third Round of Voting

Voting for UNESCO Director General
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Farouk Hosny 22 23 25
Irina Bokova 8 8 13
Benita Ferrero-Waldner 7 9 11
Ivonne Baki 7 8 9
Ina Marciulionyte 3 4 0
Alexander Yakovenko 7 3 0
Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2 2 0
Sospeter Muhongo 1 1 0
Mohammed Bedjaoui 0 0 0
Blank 1 0 0
Total 58 58 58

The fourth round is scheduled for Monday 21 September at 6.30 p.m.


The Nine Original Candidates

From left to right:

  1. Nouréini TIDJANI-SERPOS (Benin)
  2. Farouk HOSNY (Egypt)
  3. Benita FERRERO-WALDNER (Austria)
  4. Ina MARČIULIONYTĖ (Lithuania)
  5. The Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Ambassador Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï (Benin)
  6. Ivonne JUEZ de A. BAKI (Ecuador)
  7. Mohammed BEDJAOUI (Algeria)
  8. Irina Gueorguieva BOKOVA (Bulgarie)
  9. Alexander Vladimirovich YAKOVENKO (Russian Federation)
  10. Sospeter Mwijarubi MUHONGO (United Republic of Tanzania)


Results of the second round of voting

Farouk Hosny 23

Benita Ferrero-Walder 9

Ivonne Baki 8

Irina Bokova 8

Ina Marciulionyte 4

Alexander Yakovenko 3

Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2

Sospeter Muhongo 1

Mohammed Bedjaoui 0

As compared with the first round, Ferrero-Waldner gained two votes, Farouk Hosny, Ivonne Baki and Ina Marciulionyte gained one vote each, and Alexander Yakovenko dropped four votes. The was one blank ballot on the first round, and none on the second.

I got this information from three independent sources.

Third ballot tomorrow (Saturday) around 3pm Paris time/9am Washington time.

Press coverage of the second round:


More coverage of the election and the candidates

Starting after the first vote toward the selection of the new Director General of UNESCO I will post links to news articles as I find them. This list extends the previous list which has more than 200 links.

  1. Jewish activists concerned ahead of UNESCO vote
  2. Farouk Hosni ne parvient pas à prendre la tête de l'Unesco au premier tour
  3. Egypt: UN candidate regrets attack on Israel
  4. Anti-Semitism row overshadows UNESCO leader vote
  5. UNESCO : le lynchage abscons de Farouk Abd-El-Aziz Hosni.
  6. Disputa por candidato egipcio remece votación para jefe UNESCO
  7. Rallying support at UNESCO
  8. Egyptian leads race for Unesco post
  9. EU Commissioner Ferro-Waldner out of UNESCO DG race (I have not been able to confirm this story, and I suspect it may be malicious.)
  10. Will book-burning comments block Unesco candidate?
  11. Anti-Semitic remarks cloud Egypt's UNESCO bid
  12. Final stretch at UNESCO
  13. Cairo nominee for Unesco chief stirs controversy
  14. Deutschland will Hosni verhindern
  15. Editorial : Farouk Hosni for UNESCO: A catch 22
  16. UN culture body split over Egyptian
  17. Direction de l'Unesco: la France doit "éclaircir" sa position
  18. French Minister for Foreign Affairs embarrassed by Farouk Hosni's bid on UNESCO (video interview in French)
  19. Unesco undecided on new leader
  20. Russian deputy foreign minister leaves race to lead UNESCO
  21. Россия сняла с выборов своего кандидата на пост главы ЮНЕСКО
  22. Заступник голови МЗС РФ відмовився від боротьби за посаду гендиректора ЮНЕСКО (Ukranian)
  23. Unesco: sarà un censore egiziano il nuovo direttore generale?
  24. Voting for UNESCO chief moves into fourth round
  25. Science sidelined by politics in UNESCO elections
  26. Three contenders remain for top UNESCO post
  27. Candidat à la présidence de l’UNESCO, Farouk Hosni poursuit la censure en Egypte
  28. Egyptian leads race to head Unesco
  29. Direttore generale Unesco: Vernetti,“Il Governo ripensi la propria posizione e non voti l'egiziano Hosni, antisemita ed illiberale”.

The First Round of Voting

The first round of voting ended a couple of hours ago in Paris. I have had several reports on the totals which are in general agreement/

Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian candidate as expected had most votes, but was far from the majority of 30 needed to be selected.

Irina Bokova (Bulgaria), Alexander Yakovenko (Russia), Ivonne Baki (Ecuador) and Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria) were bunched with 7 or 8 votes each.

The remaining candidates (Marciulionyte, Muhongo, Tadjani and Bedjaoui) were far behind.

I understand that there is to be another vote tomorrow.

Recall that the Executive Board has some 60 items on its agenda so the delegates have a great deal to do beside the election of a new Director General.

Remember, that the rules allow the voting to end when any candidate gets a majority on a ballot. If that has not happened by the fourth vote, the voting in the fifth round is limited to the two candidates who received the most votes on the fourth.

Incidentally, this website has had more than 8,000 visits in less than a month.


The Poll

Thanks to all the people who took the time to vote in the poll.

I added a poll to this website to allow people to express their opinions on who should be elected Director General of UNESCO. As I write this, there have been 4650 votes recorded, the vast majority for Ina Marciulionyte (4424 votes).

Four other candidates have enough votes to show up on the graph of results: Ivonne Baki (44 votes), Irina Bokova (28 votes), Benita Ferrero-Waldner (42 votes), and Farouk Hosny (42 votes).

In the first days of the poll, Ivonne Baki took the lead. That lead rapidly deteriorated as the Marciulionyte faction started registering votes.

In interpreting this data you have to recognize that one vote does not represent one person, and the domination of Ms. Marciulionyte is almost certainly the result of her supporters mobilizing more effectively to cast votes. The number of "real votes" is quite small. 70 votes were divided among the other three candidates, with none getting as many as 28 votes.

Mohammed Bedjaoui was not included in the poll as it was thought he had withdrawn from the competition when the poll was created.

I suppose the conclusions that can be drawn are that Ina Marciulionyte's supporters are more effective in using the Internet, and perhaps that support in cyberspace for the other candidates is fairly evenly split.

In another unscientific poll, a Egyptian blogger strongly opposed to the candidacy of Farouk Hosny asked her readers whether Farouk Hosny deserved to win the UNESCO Chair. The results as of this writing are 14 yes, 91 no.


Interviews Were Held Today

Following the rules of the Executive Board of UNESCO, each of the candidates for the post of Director General of UNESCO was interviewed by the Board today. With nine interviews, scheduled for an hour each, it must have been a long day.

After a long debate on Friday and Monday, Mohammed Bedjaoui was included in the interviews. The Algerian, nominated by the Government of Cambodia, had sought to withdraw from the race but his resignation was apparently not accepted. Apparently he made a strong impression on the Board -- not surprisingly due to his impressive career.

The voting is to take place on Thursday, September 17. You may recall that if a candidate does not obtain the majority of votes on any of the first four ballots, then the fifth ballot is to be limited to the top two candidates on the fourth ballot.

We will soon know who will get the nod from the Executive Board, to be recommended to the entire General Conference which meets in October.

While Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, continues to claim leadership in the race, others suggest it is still open, with several contenders having a chance for selection.