Egypt's candidate for the leadership of UNESCO, Moushira Khattab, has said she is determined to stay in the running after coming third in the third round of the poll.
On Wednesday, the veteran diplomat received 13 votes (+1 vote) in the third round of the vote by UNESCO’s executive board, behind former culture ministers Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari of Qatar (-2) and Audrey Azoulay of France (+5), who both got 18.
China's Tang Qian received five votes while Vera El Khoury of Lebanon received four.
If no candidate secures an absolute majority after four rounds of voting, there will be a run-off between the two highest-scoring.
"We will continue with the election journey until the end with determination and persistence," Khattab said in comments to Egyptian state television on Wednesday.
"Each country has its own weapon that it is using [in the vote]. We are contending with efficiency and merit," Khattab said, in response to a question about the role of money in the voting process.
"The organisation is currently facing a real crisis…and is required to play a critical role in education, fighting terrorism and extremism, building a culture of peace, and preserving the environment and heritage," she said of the UN’s cultural and heritage body.
Fifty-eight members of UNESCO's executive board voted in a first round on Monday to select a successor to outgoing Bulgarian Director-General Irina Bokova. Khattab also finished third in that round.
In UNESCO's 72-year history, no Arab nation has ever held the position of director-general.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said it has continued to hold talks with members of UNESCO's board to secure votes for Khattab.
The ministry said earlier that the initial results were no indication of the final outcome, and that Cairo had expected more votes for its own candidate based on agreements reached with African nations.
Khattab, 71, is a former minister of family and population. She served as Egypt's ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1990 to 1995, and ambassador to South Africa from 1995 to 1999.